French firm row may hit Bahrain projects
Manama, December 30, 2013
Talks between the Bahrain government and a French company over transmission projects could be threatened if efforts to blacklist the firm throughout the GCC prove successful, it has been claimed.
Saudi-based Soroof International announced yesterday that it was taking the French energy giant EDF Group to court, reported the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
Soroof International claims it is owed compensation because the EDF Group allegedly pulled out of a deal to supply expertise in low carbon electricity generation, which was expected to pave the way for nuclear reactors to be built across Saudi Arabia.
Bahrain's Electricity and Water Authority (EWA) has reportedly been in negotiations with the French firm over new transmission projects here.
Soroof International chief executive Prince Bander bin Abdullah Al Saud told a press conference in Khobar, Saudi Arabia, yesterday that his company was committed to taking legal action.
"The EDF wanted to cancel the joint venture - Soroof never asked for that," said Prince Bandar.
"Because they did, we accepted. But we want compensation.
"We did everything for them as we were in a joint venture - we marketed them, introduced them to the right people and got the company immersed in the country through contacts and we just want what we deserve.
"In the coming day we will file suit against EDF."
He also urged the governments of Saudi Arabia and France against getting involved in the dispute.
"Our intention is just to have our rights - not to hurt anyone else in the process, but it will have an effect (on relations with France)," said Prince Bander.
"Neither governments should interfere with this claim - it is up to the courts to decide."
An expert close to the case said it could have implications for business between Saudi Arabia's neighbours and the EDF Group.
"This case has a large implication for all GCC countries discussing or engaged in doing business with EDF," he said on condition of anonymity.
"There are a few different scenarios that can play out because the GCC countries have an agreement in criminal cases that the verdict applies to the whole GCC.
"If the company is blacklisted or banned in Saudi Arabia, then it will be applicable in the whole GCC - if it is condemned then the same thing.
"If the company is banned then all of a sudden all those countries in the middle of contracts or negotiations will be in trouble because obviously you can't continue doing business with a blacklisted company.
"Now Bahrain's EWA has been holding negotiations with the company for around six to seven months.
"If they sign and the company is banned, then they will be in the same situation as Soroof - taking them to court for failure to meet their end of the contract.
"But it applies to all the GCC countries including Qatar, Kuwait and the UAE - everything."
Also attending the press conference were Soroof International planning vice-president Tahir Rashid and director of business development Alexandre Amjad Katrangi. - TradeArabia News Service