Roban imposes conditions on Belco sale


The home affairs minister has imposed conditions on the sale of power firm Belco, the House of Assembly heard yesterday.

Ascendant Group, the holding company that owns Belco, announced on January 28 that it was considering the sale of the group with a deadline of Monday for bids.

Walter Roban told MPs that he had given direction to the Regulatory Authority that prospective new owners would have to stick to the Integrated Resource Plan for energy supply, which is now under development.

Mr Roban added: “Any prospective buyer would have taken note of the events of October 2018, where plant workers were poised and ready to put their feet on the street in support of their Bermudian colleagues who were abruptly dismissed.”

The Electricity Supply Union took industrial action last year over the removal of four “qualified, displaced Bermudians” from the company.

The ESTU also demanded the removal of Sean Durfy, the Ascendant chief executive, and Robert Schaefer, the chief financial officer.

The strike was followed by the appointment of Dennis Pimentel as Belco’s president with operational accountability.

Mr Roban told the House that a new owner would be expected to be “transparent, inclusive and collaborative”, and that “matters of national importance, once debated behind the closed doors on Serpentine Road, are decided through open discourse across all strata of our society”.

Mr Roban added: “It is our mission, together with the Regulatory Authority, to ensure that the result will be a better Belco for a better Bermuda.”

A spokesman for Ascendant said its board of directors welcomed Mr Roban’s statement.

He added: “The company will continue its evaluation of all strategic alternatives, which may include the sale of Ascendant and, as previously stated, the board understands that its responsibility is to a broad group of stakeholders, including shareholders, customers, employees, and regulators.

“Each of these stakeholders brings to bear on the company a wide range of perspectives and expectations.

“The board is committed to taking action that is in the best interests of all stakeholders.

“As this process continues, we look forward to working with the Government and regulator to ensure the continuity of safe, reliable and cost-effective energy for all our customers.”

Mr Roban also said the Government looked forward to “increased use of renewables and a fairer electric utility”.

He added: “You will soon hear more about developments in the electronic communications area, in particular the integrated communications licences.”

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Published Mar 23, 2019 at 8:00 am (Updated Mar 23, 2019 at 12:43 am)

Roban imposes conditions on Belco sale

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