Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Pat Rabbitte has said that none of the bids received for Bord Gáis Energy were at "an acceptable value".

Bord Gáis announced in May that it had started the sale process for its energy unit, which sources said they expected to fetch up to €1.5 billion.

Mr Rabbitte said the sale process had attracted significant interest from a broad range of potential international buyers, which he said reflected the positive international sentiment towards Ireland.

But he also noted also that current conditions in the power and commodity markets were not favourable.

"The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform and I have been clear from the outset of the offer process that Bord Gáis Energy would only be sold if a sale price was achieved which fully recognises the inherent value of the business", Mr Rabbitte said.

He said the the department will work with Bord Gáis to complete the separation of Bord Gáis Networks and Bord Gáis Energy in accordance with EU energy law.

Mr Rabbitte also said he will continue to invest in and develop the Bord Gáis Energy business and to review options for its future.

Reports earlier this week said that Blackstone Group and Viridian Group, Northern Ireland's largest energy company, had submitted final-round bids for Bord Gáis Energy.

The unit had also drawn interest from Centrica, the UK’s largest power company. 

Speaking on RTÉ's Today with Sean O'Rourke, Mr Rabbitte said he could not discuss the bids received due to confidentiality agreements, but suggestions of €1 billion were "not a way off the mark".

He said: "The fact of the matter is this is a valuable energy business in a growing and thriving company.

"Given the fact that we have some head room now because of improved economic circumstances, we are not being forced to sell. We are certainly not going to dispose of a valuable state asset unless we get value."

The Government last year raised its target for the sale of State assets from €2 billion to €3 billion after reaching an agreement with the bailout lenders to use some of the proceeds to invest in the economy as well as pay down debt.

But it has since withdrawn plans to sell its 25% stake in Aer Lingus and state forestry firm Coillte.

It secured €400m though the sale of a lottery licence last month and is looking for a further €400m from the ESB, which sold the first of its non-strategic assets put on the block last week.

Sources said the Government hoped to secure up to half of its €3 billion target through the sale of Bord Gáis Energy.

Bord Gáis Energy handles marketing, call centres, billing, and appliance servicing to over 600,000 gas customers and 300,000 electricity customers, and also has a stock of assets, particularly focussed in the renewable sector.

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said the sale of any State asset would only be on the basis of getting the right price.

He said there had been a bidding process and it failed to produce a price that the Government was satisfied with.

Acting General Secretary of the TEEU said the union is delighted that the sale of Bord Gáis is not going ahead.

Speaking on RTÉ's News at One, Arthur Hall said the union had always been opposed to the sale and felt the asking price was "selling the company on the cheap".

Mr Hall said he felt interested parties were put off buying Bord Gáis because they did not want to honour the terms and conditions that would follow employees to the new company, but he had no certainty that was the case.

He said although members would have received a pay off had the company been sold, the union remained happy the sale had not yet gone ahead.

Mr Hall said although a degree of uncertainty continued to hang over employees a lot of people are quite happy that their terms and conditions are unchanged.