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GE open to sell its stake in DPC

December 02, 2004 08:42 IST

US-based General Electric, which along with Bechtel controls 85 per cent stake in the beleaguered 2,184-MW Dabhol Power Company, is open to sell its equity but wants its claims to be settled first.

GE is also eager to cooperate with National Thermal Power and Gas Authority of India-Petronet for restarting and completing the plant in 24 months, GE India CEO Scott Bayman said on Wednesday.

Expressing "disappointment" at the delay in resolving the crisis in the billion Dabhol project by the previous National Democratic Alliance regime, he said, "We are happy that the United Progressive Alliance government is serious in restarting the mega power project."

The GE India chief welcomed the move to set up a empowered Group of Minister to resolve the Dabhol crisis and the way Cabinet secretariat was handling it.

"Our interest is in running and operating the plant as it is sitting idle for three years. It will take 6-9 months to restart phase-I and 12-24 months to complete phase-II of the project," he said, adding GE has no problems if NTPC and Gail-Petronet chips in to restart the plant.

"The response shown by NTPC and Gail-Petronet is a positive sign. NTPC is a customer of us and we know about their technical capability," he said.

On whether GE was open to selling its equity in DPC, Bayman said, "Yes, we are open to it. We will do what anybody wants to do -- either asset sale or equity sale. But we want our claims to be settled first."

GE and Bechtel had filed separate claims totalling $9 billion in arbitration courts in London and the Netherlands, and also claims $400 million for equity and payment of past dues on contract.

While pressing for early power generation from DPC, Bayman said GE and Bechtel wants to get back their dues worth $70 million each on account of contracts.

"We want a return on our equity," he said.

Apart from these claims, GE and Bechtel also filed suits against the Indian government for breach of Bilateral Investment Protection Agreement with a whopping claim of about $9 billion.

Government is believed to have filed its reply at the international arbitration court in London on Tuesday and a hearing is expected in July.

"We are hopeful of a resolution and reaching an out-of-court settlement before the hearing in July next year on the arbitration claims," Bayman said.

Asked whether or not these arbitration claims was hindering the revival of DPC, he said, "On the contrary, it has speeded it up. We are serious about arbitration claims."

The GE official said the revival of DPC could be carried out independent of the arbitration cases. "Arbitration will not come in the way of restarting the plant," he said.

Bayman admitted that the outlook of the Indian government has changed in recent months.

The GE India chief had shot off a letter to Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia in October first week expressing strong views about the delay of the Indian government in resolving the issue.

"The resolution of DPC will send a positive signal to foreign investors that their investments are protected here," he said.
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