27 January 2012

The old nothing could be further from the truth ploy #nlpoli #cdnpoli

Ed Martin from Nalcor and Chris Huskilson from Emera held a news conference in St. John’s on Friday to announce that they will not have a deal on Muskrat Falls finished by the January 31 deadline.

They issued a short, joint statement in addition to holding a news conference.

Ed Martin:

We have made significant progress on the agreements and we are nearing completion; however, we will not have all the detailed work completed by January 31 as previously stated.

We do have the majority of agreements completed. This consists of thousands of pages of contract details. Our next steps are to finalize all the detail in the agreements and complete our internal reviews and due diligence.

Both parties are committed to a quality outcome and we want to ensure clarity in these agreements.

Chris Huskilson:

The principles of the term sheet are still the foundation of all discussions and they have not changed.

We understand that there will be some people who will believe this is more significant than it is and we feel compelled to emphasize that our relationship is strong, the term sheet principles remain and they are guiding our work.

We continue to make progress and we will ensure that people are informed once we have finalized the agreements.

This is the second deadline the companies missed.  Last November they slide the deadline from the end of that month until the end of January.

They announced the development with a simple statement:

“We are making good progress on the agreements,” said Ed Martin, President and CEO of Nalcor Energy. “However, we need more time to complete the volume of work required. Our relationship with Emera remains strong and both parties are committed to a quality outcome. These are important agreements and we’ll take the time to do them right."

Nalcor and Emera are targeting year‐end for completion of key agreements and both parties will then conduct review and due diligence prior to the end of January.’'

"We remain committed to the principles of the Term Sheet and look forward to finalizing an agreement with our partner Nalcor this year,” said Chris Huskilson,
President and CEO of Emera Inc. “This is an agreement that will be mutually beneficial for our customers in the region for decades to come. The additional time we are taking is modest in the grand scheme of things.”

Note the similar words.

But note the differences:

This time there is no new deadline even though they have completed “the majority” of the agreements.  Last fall they said they would finish the agreements within a month and then allow another month for “due diligence”.

This time they actually came to St. John’s to make a big deal about the missed deadline. That made sure people would wonder about the high level of sensitivity the companies had to the possibility that some people might get the wrong idea. 

Whoever those unnamed people are, they have enough influence to frighten the shit out of the two companies.  You can tell because Huskilson actually mentioned their concern in his bit of the statement: "We understand that there will be some people who will believe this is more significant than it is …”

As it is, the big show in St. John’s telegraphed that maybe the deal isn’t so secure after all.  Think of it like trotting out the deathly ill despot so people won’t speculate that he is about to kick off.  They usually only do that right before he snuffs it, thereby confirming the rumours were right all along.

And if you really want to know how not to reassure people, try this line from Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter in Friday’s Chronicle Herald:

"They're now not even going to bother to set another deadline because they feel they're close to getting it completed, which I think is all a very good thing. It's all very good news, in fact."

It’s the Rule of Opposites, or the rule of opposites or the rule of opposites or the rule of opposites.

- srbp -