Reserved bidder petitions BPE over Enugu Disco

The reserve bidder for the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company, Eastern Electrics, has petitioned the Bureau of Public Enterprises over the failure of the privatisation agency to invite it for negotiations following the failure of the preferred bidder, Interstate, to meet the payment deadline.

Similarly, the BPE will on Tuesday (today) meet with the core investors, who have bought into the power companies carved out of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, to discuss the modalities for the takeover of the companies.

 A top official of Eastern Electrics, who spoke to our correspondent on the condition of anonymity, said the company had the option of instituting a legal proceeding against the privatisation agency to enforce its right if the BPE failed to explore diplomatic channels to resolve the problem.

The spokesman for the BPE, Mr. Chigbo Anichebe, was not available to confirm whether the agency had received the petition as he did not pick calls made to his mobile phone nor reply to a text message.

Interstate had in October 2012 emerged the preferred bidder for the Enugu Disco but failed to meet the August 21 deadline for the payment of 75 per cent balance of the bid price, thus opening the doors for Eastern Electrics.

The privatisation agency has, however, failed to invite Eastern Electrics in accordance with the rule of the privatisation process.

It rather granted Interstate an extension of time to enable it to make the payment, an action that has been criticised by the Chairman, Technical Committee, National Council on Privatisation, Mr. Atedo Perterside.

According to Peterside, an extension of time to Interstate not only degraded the integrity of the privatisation exercise, but also amounted to granting a discount to Interstate following Net Present Value calculation.

Meanwhile, the BPE will meet with core investors in the 15 power companies to discuss the modalities for their takeover of the PHCN successor companies.

The Chairman, Roundtable for Electricity Sector Investors, Dr. Ransom Owan, confirmed this in a telephone interview with our correspondent in Abuja on Monday.

The meeting was called by the BPE to discuss the modalities for the takeover, which the Director-General of the BPE, Mr. Benjamin Dikki, had said would begin from October 1.

“Each of the investors has made proposals on the turnaround of the companies. The earlier we get access to the companies the better,” Owan said.

Meanwhile, the South-East Zonal Publicity Secretary of  the All Progressives Congress, Mr. Osita Okechukwu, has said he will sue the BPE if within seven days the agency does not furnish him with information on the privatisation of the Enugu Distribution Company in line with the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.

The APC chieftain had in a letter dated September 12, 2013, requested the BPE to furnish him with information and documents covering its activities, ranging from expression of interest, technical valuation and technical proposal, emergence of the preferred bidder, share purchase agreement, payments made so far (with dates) and all other relevant documents relating to the sale of the company.

In a statement made available to journalists in Enugu on Monday, Okechukwu said for the BPE to allegedly bend the rules to allow a preferred bidder to buy a national treasure when it did not meet the payment deadline was against due process and the rules of the privatisation process.

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