29 Jan 2002 – Gaz de France (GdF), one of at least five companies expected to shortly express interest in taking on the Dabhol Power Project in India, has said it is looking for an Indian partner to take over Enron’s 85 per cent equity in the holding company. GdF is interested only in 5.5 million tonnes LNG import and storage facility and the partner was being sought for the operation of power project.

“We are certainly interested in Dabhol, but we would like to bid with an Indian partner for the 2184 MW power project and associated energy LNG facilities, “GDF Project Director Jacques Gautier told reporters. GdF made it clear it was not interested in entering the electricity market but said it was in discussions with a number of Indian partners.

Initial bids for Enron’s stake are expected to be invited in the next few days and the due diligence exercise will take place in London in the first week of February. In addition to GdF, Tata, BSES, GAIL and Videcon are understood to be in the running

The group of financial institutions which have over 50bn rupees ($1.03bn) locked up in the project have appointed the Industrial Development bank of India (IDBI) to represent them. Chairman P P Vora had said that entire process would be completed by end of the fiscal year. The financial institutions have mandated Rothschild, DSP Merrill Lynch along with Suisse Securities to act as global advisors for the deal.

It is reported that a non-refundable $100 000 deposit will be demanded from parties seeking access to due diligence documentation.

Separately, the Indian Ministry of Finance has proposed a management take-over for the $2.9bn project in the light of allegations that crucial Dabhol Power Company documentation has been destroyed or removed without permission.

Against this backdrop, the possibility of the financial institutions taking over the management of DPC under the Company Law also needs to be explored, said a participant in the meeting held last week between the ministry, MSEB and financial institutions.

During the meeting, the state government, which had been insisting that National Thermal Power Corporation should buy out DPC, is understood to have said that despite the efforts of the financial institutions, DPC might not agree to an amicable settlement of the issue. Earlier Power Ministry had categorically ruled out NTPC taking over the controversial power project saying it would be tantamount to backdoor nationalisation of a private power project.