3 minute read
5 Sep 2014
5:18 pm

Westinghouse abandons Eskom interdict

Westinghouse Electric SA has abandoned its bid to stop Eskom from going into business with French company Areva NP Proprietary, Eskom said on Friday.

Image courtesy: stock.xchng

“We received notice yesterday that there would be a withdrawal of the interdict,” Eskom’s external legal representative, Titus Mchunu, said on Friday.

He was speaking at a media briefing held at Eskom’s headquarters, Megawatt Park, in Sunninghill. The briefing was attended by the company’s senior general manager, Andrew Etzinger, acting group executive for technology and commercial, Matshelo Koko, and Neo Tsholanku, legal general manager of the parastatal.

Westinghouse had taken the power utility to court to get an interdict to stop it from either signing a contract with Areva or implementing the contract if it had already signed it.

It also wanted Eskom to provide documents detailing how Areva had been awarded the R4 billion tender to replace steam generators at the Koeberg nuclear power plant.

Mchunu said Westinghouse still wanted the documentation.

Eskom would provide Westinghouse with non-confidential or commercially sensitive information and would need to consult with affected parties prior to releasing information with such content.

The power utility had five working days to hand over the documents.

Westinghouse had alleged there was foul play in awarding the tender and said it had reliably learned that it had in fact won it. But the decision was changed after Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown was told about the tender committee’s decision.

While Eskom has maintained that everything was above board with the tender processes, Westinghouse seemed confident it could find evidence in the documentation.

“The production of all relevant documentation relating to the tender will place Westinghouse in a strong position to proceed with its intended course of action to review Eskom’s decision,” Westinghouse director Ruth Kolevsohn said in a statement.

Commenting on the court case, Mchunu said Westinghouse’s evidence was all based on faceless third parties that Westinghouse claimed it could not identify.

The sources also could not give affidavits.

“The court could not accept hearsay evidence,” said Mchunu.

According to Eskom officials, an affidavit by Westinghouse suggested that Westinghouse officials met a senior Eskom official at a bar where the tender decision was discussed prior to it being officially announced.

“They were having drinks with someone who was meant to give them good news about the tender,” said Koko.

The source reportedly told Westinghouse officials that they had been “pickpocketed” out of the tender.

“The affidavit suggests that corruption had taken place so we want to report the matter so police can investigate,” said Tsholanku.

Meanwhile, a trip that Eskom’s tender committee took to France a few months before awarding the contract to the French bidder was put under the spotlight during the briefing.

Questioned on Friday about the trip, Koko said there was nothing undue about it.

He said officials were there for training.

The trip was organised by Electricité de France (EDF), a company which has close ties with Areva.

Koko said the Koeberg facility which was at the centre of the tender was an extension of the EDF.

He said their relationship with EDF was “very strong”. Meanwhile, the winners of the tender were yet to sign their contract.

– Sapa