New Delhi: The Rajasthan government’s plan to sell the 1,000 megawatt (MW) Chhabra project is gaining traction with at least three suitors, including US-based electricity producer AES Corp., shortlisted for the plant valued at around Rs14,000 crore.
AES India, an arm of AES Corp., has placed a joint bid with Macquarie Group Ltd. The other two bidders are Tata Power Co. Ltd-ICICI Venture Funds Management Co. Ltd and Adani Power.
All three have cleared the request for proposal (RFP) stage—the process of expressing their interest in acquiring the plant.
The sale process is part of electricity reforms initiated by the Vasundhara Raje-led Rajasthan government, which is betting on more private-sector participation—especially after it ushered in labour reforms as part of its strategy to improve the ease of doing business.
The bid process is being run by consulting firm EY for the Rajasthan Rajya Vidyut Utpadan Nigam Ltd (RVUNL), the state government-owned power generation arm, with the next stage of request for quotation (RFQ), the process of submitting price bids, to be called shortly.
“The Rajasthan government wants to sell its entire power generation portfolio. Chhabra project is first of the lot,” said a person aware of the development, requesting anonymity.
AES and China Light and Power (CLP) are among the significant overseas power companies present in India through their subsidiaries—AES India and CLP India Pvt. Ltd, respectively.
Another person, who also didn’t want to be identified, confirmed the three bids clearing the RFP stage for the project located in the Baran district near the Madhya Pradesh border.
ET Now television channel reported on 26 August 2016 that Adani Power, JSW Energy, Piramal Enterprises, NTPC Ltd, Macquarie Group and the Tata Power-ICICI Ventures joint venture were among the firms initially interested in the Chhabra project.
Mint reported on 27 July 2015 about the Rajasthan government’s plans to sell power projects to state-owned NTPC.
“The talks with NTPC have not progressed. The Chhabra project has another 2,400 MW under different stages of construction,” said the first person quoted above.
Experts say that there are a separate set of considerations for the buyers and the seller.
“From the bidders’ point of view one will have to see the fuel linkage, cost of electricity, land associated with the project and the plant’s age. From Rajasthan government’s point of view, the sale will help them in reducing debt,” said Anil Razdan, former power secretary.
Rajasthan has a power generation capacity of around 16,235.50MW, with 3,539.65MW capacity under construction. Of these, RVUNL has installed capacity of 5,957.35MW.
Rajendra Shrivastav, market business leader of AES India, and a Macquarie Group spokesperson declined comment.
“The Joint Venture platform (with ICICI) had participated in request for qualification and we await formal information on same,” a Tata Power spokesperson said in an email response.
Queries emailed to the spokespersons of ICICI, Adani Group, NTPC and EY on Monday evening remained unanswered.
Sanjay Malhotra, principal secretary, energy, Rajasthan government, didn’t respond to a message left in his office on Monday.
Queries emailed to an external communications agency for the Rajasthan government and sent to the cellphone of Nageen Kumar Kothari, chairman and managing director, RVUNL, also remained unanswered.