KARACHI: After more than seven years at the helm of K-Electric, Tabish Gauhar bid farewell to the power company he managed to steer out of a controversial privatisation and recurring financial losses, and in the process showing the way for the sale of other such assets.
The K-Electric on Friday announced that Gauhar decided not to continue for another term as the chairman during a meeting of the company’s board of directors. Personal reasons were cited.
But the Karachiite is still involved with the company indirectly, being a partner of private equity Abraaj Capital, which has stake in the management control of K-Electric.
Gauhar was currently the chairman, a relatively laidback post he took over in February 2013, after serving for more than three years as the CEO.
His exit has come at a time when industry people say Abraaj is facing difficulty in finding a suitable investor to buy its stake. The private equity plans to exit by end of 2016.
The successful turnaround of a once loss-making integrated power company has propelled his stature in corporate Pakistan, especially because no one believed that K-Electric (formerly KESC) could earn a profit and cut incessant power outages.
Soon after he took over as CEO in November 2009, a trade union-led movement over the forced golden handshake scheme led to a fierce showdown, which badly disrupted company’s operations.
Despite immense political pressure, Gauhar and his team stood ground, leaving little chance for the protesting workers but to agree to the terms of the management.
That was followed by an intense campaign to curb power theft, which sometimes also led to allegations of unfair practices on part of K-Electric.
Nevertheless, it has been able to cut transmission and distribution losses and has exempted 60% of the customers from load-shedding.
Even though he hasn’t been part of the active management for the past few years, but June’s heat wave that left over 1,200 people dead in the port city dragged K-Electric into another controversy, as people said not enough has been spent on adding more megawatts and power delivery system.
Gauhar’s legacy will remain long after the company is sold for helping Karachi stand out compared to many other cities where large parts continue to remain in the dark.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 17th, 2015.
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