November 10, 2017 / 2:43 PM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-Ghana names Fieldstone, PWC as leads for thermal assets sale

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By Kwasi Kpodo

ACCRA, Nov 10 (Reuters) - Ghana has named Fieldstone and PricewaterhouseCoopers to lead its planned sale of thermal assets worth up to $2 billion, in an effort to relieve its debt-laden power sector, government sources told Reuters on Friday.

The West African nation also appointed consulting firms Boulders Advisors Ltd and Mott Macdonald as co-managers of the sale, with Accra-based law firm Bentsi-Enchill, Letsa & Ankomah as legal advisors.

The government said it wants to cut its stake in the majority of thermal plants - facilities that run on gas or light crude oil to generate electricity - that state-run Volta River Authority (VRA) operates. The authority has a total capacity of 1,325 megawatts and runs at 50 to 65 percent capacity.

Apart from VRA’s installed generating capacity of 2,456 megawatts, which includes hydro and solar units, independent power producers have a total installed capacity of 1,925 megawatts, mostly thermal.

VRA’s board chairman Kweku Awotwi said last month that more than 20 potential bidders had expressed interest in the assets.

No date has yet been fixed for the sale, which was first mentioned in the 2017 budget statement released in March. It forms part of government plans to clear a 10 billion-cedi ($2.3 million) debt owed by VRA and other utilities to banks and bulk suppliers.

Ghana is recovering from a prolonged power crisis caused by drought and years of political interference. Repeated blackouts have crippled industries and stifled economic growth.

Since assuming office in January, President Nana Akufo-Addo and his government have launched plans to clear the country’s debt, alongside a $918 million credit programme with the International Monetary Fund to restore fiscal balance by April 2019. (Additional reporting by Colin Leopold reports at Project Finance International, a Thomson Reuters company; writing by Kwasi Kpodo, editing by Sofia Christensen and Larry King)

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