The Supreme Court on Friday declared the American investor, BFIGroup Corporation, as the rightful winner of the bid for the Aluminium Smelter Company of Nigeria (ALSCON) held in 2004, ousting the Russian group, UC Rusal.
The court upheld the appeal by BFIG against the decision of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) to disqualify it as the preferred bidder for ALSCON after winning with a superior $410million offer in 2004.
The consortium of Nigerian/American investors, led by Rueben Jaja, which was declared winner of the bid by the National Council on Privatisation (NCP) for the $3million plant, was later disqualified in controversial circumstances by the BPE on the grounds that it did not have a valid contract.
But, the apex court, in a unanimous judgement read by John Fabiyi, said that by virtue of the fact that the company had fulfilled all conditions stipulated in the bid guidelines issued by the BPE and the NCP prior to the commencement of the process to privatise the aluminium plant, including the payment of a $1million cash bid bond, and was cleared to stand for the bid, which it won, it had a subsisting and valid contract that is binding.
It therefore directed that BFIGroup be recognised immediately as the authentic winner of the bid for the plant.
Russian firm, UC Rusal, which was initially disqualified by BPE, and later re-qualified to stand for the bid, was handed the plant in intriguing circumstance with a bid of $250million. The company has been running the plant since 2006, when it took over from the BPE.