Cabinet approves BPCL strategic disinvestment

Daniel Fowler
November 21, 2019

Numaligarh Refinery will be with the government only and will not be part of disinvestment, she said.

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) approved sale of government's entire 53.29 per cent stake along with transfer of management control in the country's second-biggest state-owned refiner Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL) after taking out Numaligarh refinery from its fold, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman told reporters here.

"The strategic disinvestment of BPCL, of the Government of India's shareholding of 53.29 per cent, along with transfer of certain management control to strategic buyer is approved". This is called selling the country.

Sitharaman had said in an interview last week the government would wrap up the sale of the fuel retailer by March 2020.

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The government has tried this model earlier during the strategic disinvestment of metal and mining PSUs - Hindustan Zinc Ltd and BALCO. In the current fiscal year, by the end of September, the government had only raised Rs 12,359 crore through disinvestment. The management control in CONCOR will still change hands, Pandey said.

Two of the PSUs under the strategic disinvestment plan, THDC and NEEPCO, will be taken over by another state-run power major, NTPC. The Uttar Pradesh government holds the balance 25% stake in THDC India. The decision to divest stake in the public sector companies may help the Centre bridge the widening fiscal gap. It also approved the sale of an entire 63.75 per cent government holding in Shipping Corp of India (SCI) and a 30.8 per cent stake in Container Corp of India (Concor).

The government has also chose to reduce its stake in select public sector firms below 51% to boost revenue collections, which have declined because of slowdown in economic growth. This move is expected to increase the free float available in the market which may have positive impact on Foreign Portfolio Investments in Indian capital markets and in creation of wider investment space for retail and institutional investors and may increase in the market premium of CPSEs due to likely positive investors perception During its first term, the Modi government had moved slowly on strategic sales after vowing to push through such transactions. Public funded National Highway (NH) projects, which are operational and have toll revenue generation history of one year after the Commercial Operations Date (COD), shall be monetised through the TOT Model.

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