Two firms eyeing BENECO takeover

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BAGUIO CITY  – Two major industry players are setting their sights on the possible takeover of the management of the Benguet Electric Cooperative (BENECO), a triple A rural electric cooperative, because of the lesser expenses to be entailed in the operation of the distribution utility with guaranteed lower cost of power to the consumers.

BENECO General Manager Gerardo P. Verzosa admitted officials of the two companies already initiated exploratory talks with their local counterparts to ascertain the viability of a possible takeover of the management and operation of the electric cooperative in the future.

“The takeover of performing rural electric cooperatives seems to have a greater chance to succeed because of the lesser expenses to be infused by the concerned company to manage and operate the cooperative compared to the takeover and rehabilitation of ailing cooperatives wherein investors need to settle the outstanding obligations of the ailing ones apart from spending for the management and operation of the cooperatives,”Verzosa stressed.

However, the BENECO official declined to divulge the identity of the two companies interested in taking over the rural electric cooperative, saying that the companies will surely surface if they find viability in the possible takeover.

According to him, the bottom line of the deal will be cheaper power rates charged to the consumers which is likely possible if the potential investor will be able to lower the P1 distribution, supply and metering charges by more or less 20 centavos.

Verzosa explained the investors are looking into the possibility of offering attractive retirement packages to the cooperative’s over 100 linemen with the assurance that aside from receiving their attractive retirement package, they will still continue doing their assigned jobs and they will be compensated on their actual accomplishments.

Further, he revealed potential investors are also looking into incurring savings from the cooperative’s 45 meter readers and 16 tellers through the introduction of state-of-the-art information and communication technology (ICT) equipment that will do the work for them.

Verzosa pointed BENECO will not wait for the corporate challenge to happen as it has now adopted a policy not to hire additional linemen aside from improving its collection efficiency to maintain its high collection efficiency and improving its services to the growing number of consumers.

He claimed another option being considered by the cooperative to prevent the possible takeover is to consider converting to a cooperative that will be registered with the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) after the Board of Directors approved in principle the creation of a technical working group (TWG) to study the possibility of BENECO registering with the CDA.

Among the other initiatives being undertaken by BENECO to prevent the possible takeover include the outsourcing of the services of linemen, the offering of pre-paid electricity to consumers and the improvement of its collection efficiency and continuously reducing its single-digit systems loss through the sustained improvement of its existing systems.

Verzosa asserted BENECO will remain steadfast in ensuring that its rates will remain one of the cheapest after being cited by the National Electrification Administration (NEA) as the rural electric cooperative with the cheapest rate among inland cooperatives.

By HENT

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