Thu, 7th Dec 2023

VIOTAS founders partner with Goodbody / AIB to acquire Bord na Móna stake as company scales for international growth

VIOTAS founders, Paddy Finn, and Duncan O’Toole, have partnered with Goodbody Capital Partners to execute a management buyout of Bord na Móna’s 50% stake in the business and provide growth capital to support the international expansion plans of the business. The transaction, which was funded by Goodbody Capital Partners, on behalf of AIB, sees the semi-state achieve a significant return on its 2016 investment and positions VIOTAS for material international growth.

VIOTAS founders partner with Goodbody - AIB to acquire Bord na Móna stake as company scales for international growth

The Limerick headquartered company leverages its smart grid technology to control the electricity usage of large electricity consumers, increasing and decreasing their consumption in unison to form what is called a Virtual Power Plant. It then trades these Virtual Power Plants in the electricity market where it competes against conventional fossil fuel power stations, generating significant revenue for participating customers. This service, known as Demand Response, is widely cited as being critical to balancing power grids where traditional power generation is giving way to increasing levels of renewable energy.

Bord na Móna first invested in VIOTAS, formerly Electricity Exchange, in 2016 as part of its strategic commitment to support rising green innovators and businesses that are pioneering climate action solutions and providing sustainability-focused employment. Over the past eight years, VIOTAS has grown steadily in Ireland to become the market leader in its space. Since 2020, the company has tripled its team in Ireland and expanded its operations into Australia, Poland, and the USA as part of a wider international expansion plan.

Tom Donnellan, Chief Executive of Bord na Móna said, “At Bord na Móna, we are committed to supporting Ireland in achieving its ambitious carbon emission reduction targets by 2030, in addition to the longer-term goal of reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050. These goals cannot be attained without the growth and support of energy-conscious and environmentally sustainable companies, which is why we chose to invest in VIOTAS back in 2016.”

“Since that initial investment, the business has gone from strength to strength and is now a leading player in the global Smart Grid technology market. I would like to wish Paddy, Duncan, and the rest of the leadership team at VIOTAS continued success for the future, and with Bord na Móna having a significant development pipeline of renewable projects, we look forward to partnering with VIOTAS in a different capacity moving forward.”

Goodbody Capital Partners has invested in VIOTAS’ management buyout, on behalf of AIB as part of AIB’s ambitious strategy to help address the challenges of climate change by providing funding to companies and projects that are helping to build a more sustainable future. AIB’s support will enable VIOTAS to focus on its next stage of international growth.

Commenting on today’s announcement, Paddy Finn, CEO of VIOTAS and Professor of Smart Energy Systems at the University of Limerick said, “We are very proud of what we have achieved as a company over the past eight years while working alongside Bord na Móna to deliver on our joint commitment to supporting the decarbonisation of Ireland’s energy system. As VIOTAS has evolved, our attention has extended to supporting this critical objective in other markets also, with Ireland remaining at the leading edge of what we do. We are excited to accelerate this journey now, with the support of AIB underpinning our capacity to deliver at an international level.”

“Duncan and I would like to thank our team at VIOTAS, whose unrelenting commitment to achieving success at every turn forms the bedrock on which we continue to build our business.”

Finlay McFadyen, Head of Goodbody Capital Partners said, “Goodbody Capital Partners is delighted to have made this investment in VIOTAS, on behalf of AIB, at a time when the bank has stepped up its commitment to combat climate change. As a leader in smart grid technology, VIOTAS is a great Irish growth story, and we look forward to partnering with Paddy and Duncan as the company continues to grow in Ireland and internationally. This transaction also marks Goodbody Capital Partners’ first investment as part of the Goodbody Group and is consistent with our ambition to support and invest in growth companies.’’

Bord na Móna were advised by McCann Fitzgerald LLP, and Deloitte.

VIOTAS were advised by IBI, EY, and Pinsent Mason.

Goodbody Capital Partners were advised by Maples and Grant Thornton.

Established in Limerick, Ireland in 2013, VIOTAS set about designing and delivering new innovations to address the challenges posed by increased renewable generation in electrical grids: How can a grid be balanced when a large amount of electricity is coming from unpredictable renewable sources that are difficult to forecast and that change the fundamental principles of how grids operate?

In response, VIOTAS developed proprietary technologies that place electricity customers at the core of the solution. By managing their electricity consumption and onsite generation in real-time, VIOTAS help balance the wider electricity grid. The company then aggregates participating customers to form Virtual Power Plants which are traded in the electricity market, competing against conventional fossil fuel power stations. This approach not only generates significant revenue for participating customers but also contributes to reducing carbon emissions. With a global expansion strategy, VIOTAS, currently with over 110 staff, operates in Ireland, Poland, USA, Australia and New Zealand.