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Reserved bidder sues BPE, NCP over Enugu Disco

By on September 19, 2013

Eastern Electric, the reserve bidder for the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company, has sued the Bureau of Public Enterprises and the National Council on Privatisation to enforce its right to acquire 60 per cent stake in the power firm.

The Communication Consultant to Eastern Electrics, Mr. C.Don Adinuba, confirmed this in a telephone interview with our correspondent in Abuja on Tuesday.

“We have approached the Federal High Court in Abuja to enforce our right to be invited as the reserve bidder following the failure of the preferred bidder to meet the payment schedule. Mr. Wale Olanipekun is the lawyer handling the case for the company,” Adinuba said,

Interstate Electrics had emerged as the preferred bidder for the Enugu Disco along other companies that bid for 15 electricity companies carved out of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria in October 2012.

However, after the payment of $18.9m, representing 25 per cent of the value of its bid price for the Enugu Disco, it failed to meet the August 21 deadline set by the BPE and ratified by the NCP chaired by Vice-President Namadi Sambo.

Although Interstate had approached the privatisation agency for an extension of time, the BPE declined until the expiration of the deadline for the payment of 75 per cent balance of the bid price on August 21.

The eventual extension of time, however, pitched the Chairman, Technical Committee, NCP, Mr. Atedo Peterside, against the Director-General of the BPE, Mr. Benjamin Dikki.

While Peterside leads those that insist that it was wrong for the BPE to grant Interstate an extension, Dikki, however, favoured an extension of time for the company to pay up.

In an electronic mail obtained by our correspondent, Peterside had advised against a possible extension of time for Interstate, adding that such would not only undermine the integrity of the transaction and the NCP, but would also translate into a financial discount to the preferred bidder.

Peterside had said in his letter to the BPE boss, “Your narration shows that this bidder appears to be reckless and in-disciplined, and did not make any payment whatsoever towards the $93.24m outstanding.

“Showing up with a mere term sheet on the eve of an important payment deadline is evidence of un-seriousness and/or lack of focus. The term sheet should have been presented weeks or months before the payment deadline and not 24 hours before the deadline. This was clearly a ruse to buy some time.

“In the circumstances, I would strongly advise that the preferred bidder be disqualified and that we instead turn to the reserve bidder in order to maintain the integrity of the process.”

Addressing the fears expressed by the BPE boss that Interstate could go to court if the bid was cancelled, Peterside said the privatisation agency should be concerned about doing what was right irrespective of any court action.