Minister of Power, Bart Nnaji
By Goddy Egene
Some shareholders have called on the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE) to give priority to quoted companies in the sale of 11 distribution companies (discos) created from the unbundling of Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN).
Fifty four companies met the July 31, deadline set for companies to submit technical and financial proposals for the privatisation of the 11 companies. Two firms already listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) – Oando Plc and National Aviation Handling Company Plc (Nahco Aviance) and Honeywell – were among the companies that submitted bids to acquire some of the discos.
A cross section of shareholders last Friday, said given the experience in the telecommunications industry during the licensing of GSM operators, the quoted companies should be given priority so that more Nigerians would benefit from the privatisation exercise.
Eleven years after they were given licences, none of the mobile phone operators has been listed on the Nigerian bourse to share the billion naira profits they are making with Nigerian investors.
According to the National Coordinator of Independent Shareholders Association of Nigeria (ISAN), Sir Sunny Nwosu, the BPE should not repeat that mistake of the past.
“Since we have some companies which are listed that are bidding for the discos, I want to respectfully urge the government to give these firms the opportunity to acquire them.
“If they do that all stakeholders would benefit. The shareholders would share from the profit, the government would earn more revenue in form and the tax and other fees among others,” Nwosu said.
He added that the listed firms already had a track record and have listing experience, noting “it will therefore be easier for them to list their discos subsidiaries.”
Speaking in the same vein, the President, Nigeria Shareholders Solidarity Association (NSSA), Mr. Timothy Adesiyan, said the government should favourably consider quoted and profitable companies.
“These are companies that are used to making their shares available to shareholders. If some of the Discos are not sold to already listed firms, it would be difficult to convince new firms to list the Discos on the exchange just as we are having with the GSM firms,” Adesiyan said.
Adesiyan said some of the listed companies have entered technical agreements with foreign partners to successfully manage the Discos.
“Besides, their listing status gives them the access to funds to run these firms. It will therefore be a disservice to the nation and its citizens to sell these only to foreign firms, whose background are not known,” he said.