BPCL divestment: PSUs may be roped in
New Delhi: The government may consider roping in at least two of its blue chip firms - Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) and Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) - to participate in the strategic disinvestment of BPCL as an alternate plan if the current bidding process, open to private sector domestic and global players, failed to get the desired interest or valuation, two officials privy to discussions on the issue said.
Anil Agarwal's Vedanta Group and couple of overseas funds are said to be among "multiple suitors" for state-owned Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL) in the initial expression of intent (EoI) stage, bids for which closed on Monday. But several global players, including Aramco, Adnoc, Rosneft etc, have stayed out of the race.
Even with multiple suitors, the interest level for BPCL remains low in current subdued market conditions. If at price bidding stage early next month, government shares fetch lower prices, a fresh bidding may be called for BPCL that may allow PSU participation, the official sources said.
A Disinvestment Department official, however, ruled out rebids for BPCL as interest levels remained "adequate" in current round of bidding.
The sources said that participation from companies such as IOC and ONGC may only be a contingency measure in case of a muted response from prospective private bidders. The government is hopeful that current bidding may result in finalisation of sale deal for BPCL and alternate mechanism may not be required to be invoked.
For the government, BPCL's disinvestment is important to achieve its high disinvestment target of Rs 2.1 lakh crore for the current fiscal. So far, the government has garnered just over Rs 5,000 crore in disinvestment receipts.
The government is selling its entire 53.29 per cent stake in BPCL to a strategic investor to mobilise over Rs 50,000 crore as disinvestment receipt.
BPCL operates refineries in Mumbai, Kochi, Bina and Numaligarh but the facility in Assam is being hived off. The company accounts for 15 per cent of the India's refining capacity of close to 250 million tonnes.
The public sector company also owns 15,177 petrol pumps, 6,011 LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) distributorships and 51 LPG bottling plants.
BPCL distributes 21 per cent of petroleum products consumed in the country and owns a fifth of the 250 aviation fuel stations in the country.
Despite being a good takeover target, the company sale plan had to be postponed on four occasions since March. The concern now is that the pandemic does not result in distress sale of this valuable government asset.