We are writing this letter concerning a news piece titled “Corbetti Undergoes Ownership Change” published by the Reporter on June 11, 2022. In this news piece, citing undisclosed sources, the Reporter claims that the share transfer involving shares of Corbetti Geothermal PLC is a covered up major sales transaction. It also includes an outlandish claim that foreign companies do not want to pay tax in Ethiopia. It went on stating that the arrangement is to evade tax and the Ministry of Finance is buying this claim of the seller and the buyer of the shares of Corbetti Geothermal PLC. Furthermore, it claims that the current owners will not sell their shares to the new owners, at least without a 30 to 40 percent profit margin.
First, while we respect the rights of media to cover news, we are dismayed that the piece was published without getting inputs from the subjects of the story. We believe professional journalism requires getting information or comments from all parties. The Reporter did not get or attempt to get information from Merdiam, Berkley Energy or InfraCo who are the main subjects of this piece. Secondly, the claims covered by the piece, which are based on information from undisclosed sources, are totally inaccurate and predictive in their nature attributing guilt for something that has not happened and will not happen. For this reason, we find the piece defamatory.
Meridiam has been present in Ethiopia for over five years and shown resilience and solidarity in this period. It has invested millions of dollars to support the development of the power sector of the country. It has built strong communal and stakeholder relationship over the years. Meridiam takes its responsibilities towards the government and the community seriously and complies with all legal and regulatory requirements not only in Ethiopia but also in dozens of other countries in Africa and Globally. The transaction covered by the piece is not different.
Whilst we acknowledge the existence of a planned transaction, there has been no evidence to cover it up as the relevant governmental bodies were first consulted on our intent to progress a project that will otherwise stall at the detriment of the Ethiopian power sector, the jobs to be created and downstream economic impacts. Our simple goal is to make Corbetti reality, like Tulu Moye which we already invest in. Secondly, we understand the seller (who is not making any such suggested profit as some projects and companies do struggle and not all transactions are automatically at a gain) is liaising with ERCA for a transparent tax process as none of our organisations would indulge in tax evasion in Ethiopia or any other jurisdiction. In this vein, it should also be clarified that PIDG and its subsidiary Infraco is a developmental focused infrastructure project developer owned and funded by the British, Dutch, Swiss, Australian, Swedish and German governments, as well as the IFC we do not imagine they would be inclined to indulge in such activity frivolously stipulated in the article.
Meridiam will not allow its good name and reputation tarnished by this news piece, which is based on inaccurate and defamatory information from undisclosed sources and which sadly did not include inputs from Meridiam itself or the other subjects of the story.
Partner, COO Africa