ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has assured Abdulaziz Hamad Aljomaih, MD Investments at Aljomaih Holdings, one of the largest business groups in Saudi Arabia, of full cooperation and support by his government in resolving the matters pertaining to K-Electric Limited (KE) as well as impediments to the conclusion of Shanghai Electric Power’s (SEP’s) proposal to take a 66.4% controlling stake in KE.
Saudi billionaire Aljomaih was also the first Chairman of the power utility post privatization and remains one of the largest investors in KE through a consortium that bought out the then KESC in 2005. Hamad Aljomaih was in Pakistan to seek the resolution of challenges faced by KE including the long-standing issue of payables and receivables involving KE, and several government entities. Due to payments delays from this and other areas, the company was having to pay as much as $ 110 million in interest alone to various banks whereas this money could have been utilized for investment in the infrastructure.
It was also discussed that Aljomaih group invested in Pakistan when no other buyer was interested because of close brotherly relations between the countries and to date not a single penny has been taken or repatriated in the form of dividend.
During his two-day visit to Pakistan he met country's senior leadership and officials including Prime Minister Imran Khan and President Arif Alvi as well as the Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, the Finance Minister, Mohammedmian Soomro, the Federal Minister for Privatization, Omar Ayub Khan, the Federal Minister and Nadeem Babar, Special Advisor to the PM on Energy, focusing on areas of mutual interest, such as the resolution of pending issues, as well as potential future collaborations.
Officials close to the matter told this newspaper that the meetings were positive and the Saudi tycoon was assured at every level of the commitment of the government to encourage and facilitate foreign investments in the country. The issue of release of Tariff Differential Claims (TDCs) of Rs 275 billion was also raised and officials from various branches of the government, including the top leadership, vowed full support towards expediting the matter.
During these meetings it was also discussed that a strategic investor with utility expertise would leverage its strength to bring further advancements, benefiting consumers and economy at large.
Expressing satisfaction at the turnaround of the company, Aljomaih said, “Today we are attracting investors like Shanghai Electric, one of the major players in the global energy sector who have transformed the city of Shanghai. This would not have been possible ten or fifteen years ago. However, this is possible today as KE has been converted into a world class utility. The transaction that has been lingering since 2016, when completed will open the doors to investment of billions of dollars into Karachi’s energy infrastructure.”
The officials assured him that the matter is being dealt with on priority at the highest levels and progressing at fast speed. The officials also commented that they understand that these issues have put a strain on the sustainability of the company and acknowledged that KE has contributed significantly to industrial growth and continues to invest in its infrastructure.
Aljomaih welcomed the Government of Pakistan’s positive response with regards to a resolution of the long-standing issue of payables and receivables with various government entities, which is also a deterrent to the conclusion of the sale of Aljomaih’s stake to Shanghai Electric Power (SEP). On the second day of his visit, Aljomaih met with key stakeholders in Sindh including Governor Sindh Imran Ismail, Provincial Minister for Energy Imtiaz Shaikh, Murtaza Wahab Adviser to Chief Minister of Sindh on Law, Anti-Corruption Establishment, and Information, among others. Matters regarding KE, which is one of Aljomaih Group’s largest investments outside of Saudi Arabia also came up for discussion.
The talks also focused on KE's continued commitment to Karachi, and its upcoming 900 MW power plant located at Bin Qasim. Aljomaih expressed the hope that the release of pending payments would enable the power utility to continue investing into Karachi’s power infrastructure, and also remove hindrances to the signing of fresh agreements that were critical to improving the city’s demand and supply situation. The subject of long standing brotherly relations between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan were also highlighted.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021