The Nepalese government has decided that it will sell the state-owned hydropower company Butwal Power Co (BPC) to private investors, Reuters reports. The company owns and operates two small hydropower generating stations, which together produce a total of 17 MWe.

The government currently owns 96 per cent of the shares in BPC, with the remaining 4 per cent being owned by various donor agencies. It intends to offer a 75 per cent interest in the company to a strategic investor through a competitive bidding process. The remainder of the government shares will be allocated to the Nepali public and to the employees in BPC. It is also believed that the government will retain a nominal stake in the company for itself.

The move is being trumpeted by the government as the first stage of a much more extensive privatization programme.

The government also holds a 15 per cent stake in the Khimti hydropower project which is due to start generating power 60 MWe of electricity in 2000.