By Clara Nwachukwu
The Bureau of Public Enterprises, BPE, has denied selling the Federal Government’s five per cent shares in Eleme Petrochemical Company Limited, EPCL, Port Harcourt, Rivers State to the Indorama Group for N4.375 billion illegally.
The BPE, whose privatisation activities are currently under probe at the National Assembly, claimed that newspaper reports alleging illegal sale of the petrochemical company are “false, uninformed, mischievous and grossly misleading.”
The Bureau argued that the sale of the EPCL and other Federal Government owned establishments that have been privatised were with the full consent and knowledge of the National Council on Privatisation, NCP.
In its denial, the BPE in a statement issued recently, noted that it “could not embark on the sale of any public enterprise without the approval of the NCP and the EPCL transaction cannot be different.”
Specifically, the Bureau explained that the “EPCL was about to embark a on multi-billion dollar expansion programme, and that the inherent threat of FGN’s five per cent shareholding being diluted as a result of recapitalisation, necessitated the decision by the Technical Committee of the NCP to negotiate the price for the sale of the shares, on the understanding that the approval of the Council would be obtained before the closure of the transaction.
“A further consideration for the proposed sale of the five per cent shareholding in the company was to initiate a process in which the Nigerian public can benefit from the phenomenal successes recorded by EPCL, as Indorama, the Core Investor also agreed that it would make available between 20 and 25 percent of EPCL shares via Initial Public Offering, IPO, within a period of five years from the effective date on which the Share Purchase Agreement, SPA, for the five per cent would be signed.
Accordingly, the Bureau recalled that a request for approval of the transaction was forwarded to the NCP and its Chairman, giving full details of the processes adopted, while also informing that the sum of N4.375 billion had been placed in an escrow account, pending the final approval of the NCP.