June 20, 2006/guardian
JP Morgan Chase, a global investment banking firm has indicated its desire to increase its investment portfolio in Nigeria before the end of the present political dispensation.
JP Morgan Chase is a global investment-banking firm with more than 170,000 employees in 50 countries, including Nigeria. The bank has been in Nigeria for 25 years and is strengthening its presence to take full advantage of the new Nigeria.
The organisation\'s interest in Nigeria is buoyed just as the Director-General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), Mrs. Irene Chigbue has allayed its fears and that of other potential investors on the politico-investment climate in Nigeria, declaring that the upcoming elections will have no negative impact on the privatisation programme.
She spoke when a delegation of JP Morgan Chase paid her a courtesy visit at the weekend in Abuja led by the bank\'s Managing Director and Head of Sub- Saharan African, Mr. Jon Zehner.
Said Chigbue: \"The privatisation programme was started by a military administration and has survived both military and democratic dispensations, because international best practices have been applied in the conduct of the reform and transaction processes. Nigerians would resist any body that would take the country back to where it was before the advent of this democratic administration, the only uncertainty may lie in the ability of the administration sustaining the current tempo of the reform and privatisation process.\'\'
Zehner, whose bank is already partnering Zenith International Bank Plc on the management of Nigeria\'s foreign reserves, stated that the desire to increase its investment portfolio in Nigeria was because a lot of interesting things have happened in the country in the last seven years.
He stated that it was interesting that JP Morgan Chase is focusing on Nigeria when others are focusing on Asia.
While responding, Chigbue who briefed the delegation on the privatisation programme of the Nigerian government so far, declared that the focus of the Bureau in 2006 and 2007 would be to wind up on the reforms and commencement of privatisation of the electric power sector.
According to her, the unbundling process of the electric power sector is nearly concluded, leading to the process of privatising the unbundled entities.
Chigbue also told the delegation that the magic to a successful privatisation was credible investors
with experience and management wherewithal to participate in the privatisation programme. She thanked the bank for its continued interest in Nigeria, adding that the key to successful transaction is determined by the quality of advice from a quality advisory consultant like JP Morgan.
She described the current administration as pro-privatisation, indicating that the National Council on Privatisation (NCP) is chaired by the Vice President and all economic ministers serve as members of the council, guided by a President that is passionate about private sector participation in the economy.
She listed other flagship transactions for the two years as the railways, NIPOST and the oil and gas sectors. She said the BPE was currently developing the blueprint and the transactions structure for the gas sector privatisation, while hinting that the NIPOST restructuring process has progressed well.