NICIL receives 10 bids for closed sugar estates, says PwC

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The Skeldon Sugar Factory

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Caribbean partner Wilfred B. Baghaloo has announced at the National Industrial and Commercial Investment Limited (NICIL) on Thursday that it has received and has opened 10 bids, including one Florida based company, for the privatisation of the three closed estates.

The Skeldon, Rose Hall and East Demerara (Enmore) estates were closed in December of 2017. The closure saw close to 6000 workers being fired while Government also delayed the payments of their severance, with $2.4B being only recently approved for the second half of their payments.

The opening of the bids were observed by PwC, members of the Auditor General’s Office, members of the Steering Committee and bidders who were present.

Now that the bids have been opened, the second step is to analyse the bids in accordance to the evaluation criteria as outlined in the Information Memorandum.

Thereafter, the PwC will make recommendations to the Steering Committee and NICIL who will then make recommendations to Cabinet.

The PwC partner said 12 Information Memorandum’s were purchased of which 10 bids were submitted.

He also revealed that the Florida based company has middle eastern investors.

The Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) is currently engaged in divesting its assets to get cash to meet its operational and other expenses.

At the same time, Government is forging ahead with downsizing the industry, citing the economic feasibility of the sector.

At present, a Special Purpose Unit (SPU) of NICIL is in charge of this process.

PwC, was awarded a $60 million contract to evaluate GuySuCo’s estates.

The company was also handed a two-year ban earlier this year for allegedly overstating the earnings and assets of Indian software company Satyam Computer Services.

PwC was the audit firm at the time the more-than US$1 billion fraud occurred.

It was the founder of the company, Ramalinga Raju, who blew the whistle on the fraud in 2009, costing shareholders billions and shaking the industry.

Besides the ban, Reuters said, the Securities and Exchange Board of India has handed down an order for PricewaterhouseCoopers Bangalore and two of its former partners to pay 131 million rupees, or US$2 million, plus interest, in forfeited funds. This must be done within 45 days, with the ban taking effect on March 31.

In its defence, PwC is quoted as saying it would appeal the regulator’s decision in court. It has defended itself by affirming that there was no “intentional” wrongdoing in the fraud at Satyam.

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