IEG chief nets £19m from sale of energy group

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International Energy Group, the gas supply business based in the Channel Islands, agreed to a £202m takeover yesterday, after pressure for change from shareholders.

International Energy Group, the gas supply business based in the Channel Islands, agreed to a £202m takeover yesterday, after pressure for change from shareholders.

The sale, to Prime Infrastructure, an Australian group, will net more than £19m for IEG's chairman, Tom Scott, for his 9.5 per cent stake. Mr Scott, labelled "Mr Guernsey" for his extensive business interests on the island, will also pocket £497,369 for loss of office after completion of the deal. Other key management, including the chief executive, Mike Richards, will stay on.

The recommended offer, at 273p a share, came at a 43 per cent premium to IEG's average share price over the past 12 months.

IEG dates back to 1830, when it started life as the Guernsey Gas Light Company. It expanded into neighbouring Jersey in the early Nineties, also as a supplier of household gas. It started a business in the Algarve in the same decade, supplying holiday apartments and villas, and in the Isle of Man. Mr Scott, who joined the IEG board in 1991 and was appointed chairman in 1993, is considered the driving force behind the company's geographical expansion.

IEG took a full listing on the London Stock Exchange in 1995. It won a licence for UK mainland operations a year later, but here it only provides and manages the pipes that run from the national gas network to new housing developments, on behalf of for other gas suppliers. This is seen as the growth part of the business.

At the end of last year, IEG had more than 168,000 customer connections on the mainland, with a future order book of 77,000 connections contracted.

Two investment trusts, Ecofin Water & Power Opportunities and Utilico, which together own 20 per cent of EIG are believed to have put pressure on the company's board, which led to yesterday's deal.

Charles Jillings, an executive director of Utilico, said: "We wanted them [IEG] to leverage up the balance sheet but we did not force them to the conclusion that 'you must sell'."

Mr Scott, said to be worth more than £140m, has been a resident of Guernsey since selling his Nottingham-based crane hire business for £34.5m in 1987. He is also chairman of two other listed companies, CI Traders, which owns shops, pubs and petrol stations across the island - including the regional Marks & Spencer franchise - and ComProp, Guernsey's top property developers.

His Jackson Group car dealership network is a virtual monopoly in the Channel Islands, where he once controversially said of local residents that if they were not happy with his selection of cars they could "go to the mainland". He also has energy interests in France and Portugal.

Mr Scott added the ancient Guernsey feudal title "the Seigneurie of Canelly" to his name for £35,000 at an auction in 2003. He is also known in the Channel Islands for attempting to close a historic tavern and for trying to open a casino in Guernsey.

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