Business News of 2014-02-12

VRA now to keep non-core businesses

The Volta River Authority (VRA) has backed away from its initial proposal to sell-off its non-core businesses, saying it prefers to recapitalise them to run as independent subsidiaries under the Authority.

The power producer last August announced that it was seeking investors to hold majority shares in its non-core businesses -- the Volta Hotel, Volta Lake Transport Limited, AkosomboInternational School, Maritime Club House, and the VRA hospitals -- as part of measures to reduce its overhead costs and improve focus on its core business of power generation.

It also set up a subsidiary, Property Company of VRA (PropCo), in which to vest its landed properties. Subsequently, the Authority drafted a business plan for each of the subsidiaries andcommenced the creation of a park on Dodi Island to attract investors.

However, a change in the hierarchy of the power producer seems to have shifted the focus.Acting Chief Executive Kirk Koffi, who took over from former boss Kweku Awortwi, believes that ceding these entities to private investors is not in the best interest of the Authority.

“Why cede them to private investors? We tried private investors, but it’s a bit slow. If people are running schools, hospitals and hotels and making money, why don’t I set them up as subsidiariesand employ people who are very capable to run them?” he said.

“My approach is that we are going to set up those units as subsidiaries, recapitalise them and let them run efficiently on their own -- then break-even and move into making profit. We have the best of these things. The Akosombo Hotel is sited on one of the best locations, so we should see how we can recapitalise it and turn things round instead of depending on VRA.”

Akosombo Hotel Limited is a three-star hotel located on a hilltop overlooking the hydroelectricdam, the VRA’s main investment.

Volta Lake Transport Company Limited was incorporated in 1970 to provide north-south water-borne transport for persons and freight on the Volta Lake. It currently operates about 19 sailing vessels, comprising passenger, cargo, and barges, and is one of the most important means of transporting people and cargo upstream.

Source: B&FT
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