Reliance Infrastructure removes KPMG from BSES stake sale process

Several firms such as Tata, Adani, and CESC were looking to bid for BSES Rajdhani and BSES Yamuna, but backed out citing high valuation
Reliance Infrastructure (RInfra) has removed KPMG from the sale mandate of its 51 per cent stake in two electricity distribution companies (in New Delhi), citing “conflict of interest”.

KPMG was tasked to find a buyer for the two firms, but failed to get good offers from prospective suitors. 

Several entities such as Tata, Adani, and CESC were planning to bid for BSES Rajdhani and BSES Yamuna, but backed out citing the high valuation sought by RInfra.

State-owned NTPC wrote a letter to the Delhi electricity regulator, saying it was ready to bid for the two units provided the entire bidding process was transparent. The Delhi government owns the remaining 49 per cent stake in the two firms.

It was mutually agreed upon to close the engagement, given an emerging conflict of interest, said a banker close to the development. A KPMG spokesperson declined to comment. A BSES spokesperson, too, did not comment on the conflict of interest.

KPMG’s exit from the mandate means the entire process has to start afresh, led by RInfra.

Bankers said several prospective bidders from overseas decided to play safe, keeping in mind the pandemic. 

“Besides, the Rs 16,000 crore in combined dues of both entities to electricity generation companies also dampened the sale process,” said the banker.

There are over 4 million consumers in East and South Delhi, for which the two BSES firms have licence.

RInfra shares closed at Rs 17.45 on Monday, marking a sharp fall from the Rs 100 they were trading at a year ago.

Among prospective bidders, Tata Power already owns an electricity distribution company in New Delhi, while CESC supplies power to neighbouring Noida. Adani group supplies electricity in Mumbai, having taken over BSES Mumbai from RInfra in an Rs 18,000-crore transaction in 2017.

NTPC can retail electricity through its wholly-owned subsidiary NTPC Vidyut Vyapar Nigam (NVVN), which has the highest category of power trading licence that allows it to enter into power purchase agreements.

NTPC has earlier made several attempts to get into the distribution business. 

The firm sells around 1,500 Mw to BSES firms.

Both BSES firms are also litigating on whether inspection of their books falls under the jurisdiction of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG).

The next date of hearing at the Supreme Court is not yet fixed, said bankers, adding that if a CAG audit was granted by the court, then accounts since 2002 would be scrutinised on the basis of the exercise done by the CAG during 2014-15. 

“This could lead to more litigation for the new owners,” said the banker.


Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel