UK Markets close in 50 mins

Ireland's Bord Gais Energy Sold To Centrica

(c) Sky News 2013

British Gas owner Centrica (LSE: CNA.L - news) is in line to take over the energy supply arm of Ireland (Other OTC: IRLD - news) 's state-owned Bord Gais as part of a £1bn deal.

The group is part of a consortium that would pick up a business with more than 700,000 Irish household and business customers in the sale, as well as a gas-fired power station in Cork.

The consortium has been named preferred buyer in a sale of Bord Gais assets, in a deal struck as Ireland prepares to end its international bailout.

The announcement came hours after Centrica said it was quitting its planned £2bn Race Bank wind farm scheme off the Norfolk coast, selling the project to Denmark's DONG Energy for £50m.

The Irish deal saw the Dublin government pushing for a £1.2bn sale but eventually accepting the lower price.

Ministers said the international investment was a strong vote of confidence in the market and the Irish economy and would provide additional funding for investment in infrastructure and jobs.

As part of the deal, Brookfield Renewable Power is understood to be in line to pick up existing onshore wind farms and others being developed, while iCON Infrastructure will take on a gas pipeline network in Northern Ireland.

The sum being paid by each member of the consortium has not been disclosed.

Talks will now begin on finalising the sale, which is expected to complete early next year.

Bord Gais's assets were offered to international investors as part of the disposal of state assets under Ireland's EU-IMF bailout programme, which it is expected to exit within days.

Centrica sees the Irish deal as a growth opportunity in an adjacent market to the one currently served by British Gas, which has 12 million residential customers in the UK.

Its exit from Race Bank, announced on Thursday, was part of a broader strategy shift which includes focusing more on gas investments.

:: Watch Sky News live on television, on Sky channel 501, Virgin Media channel 602, Freeview channel 82 and Freesat channel 202.