IRELAND’S newest state company, the Shannon Group, will be formally established in the coming weeks after President Michael D Higgins signed the relevant bill into law.
The new company, which has a commercial mandate, will combine Shannon Airport with the property functions of Shannon Development.
Both Shannon Airport and Shannon Commercial Enterprises - as the Shannon Development legacy company is to be called - are to be stand-alone entities and the legislation signed by the president on Sunday specifies that they cannot cross-subsidise one another.
Shannon Heritage, which manages tourism attractions in the region such as Bunratty and King’s John’s castles, will also remain part of the group.
Welcoming confirmation that the State Airports (Shannon Group) Bill had been signed into law, Rose Hynes, chairman Shannon Airport, said: “The separation of Shannon Airport in January of last year and the enactment of the Shannon Group legislation are critical steps in a process that will now allow us to drive forward with our ambitious plans for Shannon Group. The establishment of Shannon Group will now take place in the coming weeks”.
And airport CEO Neil Pakey added that: “The signing into law of the bill marks an exciting new beginning for the strategic business units within the Shannon Group and we look forward to the challenges ahead ”. When the government announced its new policy for Shannon in 2012, it held out the possibility that the Shannon Development’s rent revenues - at around €14m a year - could be used by the wider group to develop the airport.
But this cannot happen without falling foul of EU state aid rules.
Mr Pakey told a press conference in Limerick last week that management was more than happy with the new arrangement and wanted each constituent business of the Shannon Group to stand on its own feet.
The bill also brings closer the development of the International Aviation Services Centre – a cluster of aviation businesses management plans to attract to the airport.