Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB) is still in discussions to buy Northern Utility Resources Sdn Bhd (NUR), although there is still a big gap to fill before an agreement can be reached, said TNB chairman Datuk Dr Awang Adek Hussin.
“We are still exploring, and we have not come to any decision,'' he said.
The differential between what TNB was willing to pay and what the controlling shareholder of NUR was asking was still significant, Awang Adek said, but added that TNB might consider buying NUR if it were reasonably priced.
NUR, the country's first independent power utility (IPU), was awarded a 30-year concession in January 1997 to generate, sell and distribute power directly to the Kulim High-Technology Industrial Park.
The licence was awarded to a consortium led by Manfield Development Sdn Bhd.
NUR was to set up a 450MW combined cycle gas-fired power plant to meet the needs of the industrial park.
Unlike independent power producers, it need not sell electricity to TNB and be governed by a power purchase agreement. It will directly sell and distribute electricity to the area.
While the plant was being constructed, TNB agreed to provide electricity of up to 240MW for distribution within Kulim Hi-Tech Park.
NUR completed its first phase 225MW power plant in 2000, but did not fire up the plant as actual power demand was way below its generating capacity. It is reported that NUR buys 40MW of power from TNB to distribute to the industrial park.
Asked whether there were commercial grounds for TNB to buy NUR, Awang said acquiring NUR might help TNB in the long run if it minimised TNB's costs and maximised its profits.
“At the end of the day, it must be commercially viable, as the acquisition will show up in our books,'' he said.
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