The Centre will sell its entire stake in THDC India Ltd and NEEPCO, while only strategically divesting its stake in the others.

Cabinet approves stake sale in BPCL Shipping Corporation of India and 3 other PSUs
Money Cabinet Thursday, November 21, 2019 - 08:13

Pushing the pedal on its disinvestment programme, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on Wednesday approved strategic disinvestment in five large public sector undertakings (PSU) -- BPCL, CONCOR, SCI, THDC and NEEPCO -- along with change in management control in these companies.

Addressing the media after the Cabinet meeting, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that while the Centre will strategically disinvest Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL), Shipping Corporation of India (SCI) and Container Corporation of India (CONCOR), it will sell its entire stake in THDC India Ltd and North Eastern Electric Power Corporation (NEEPCO) to another state-run power major, NTPC.

The government will also give up management control in these companies, Sitharaman added.

The strategic sale of BPCL, however, would exclude the oil refiner's 61% stake in Numaligarh Refinery Ltd in Assam, Sitharaman told reports.

"Numaligarh will be carved out from BPCL before its disinvestment and would retain its PSU character. The company can be taken over by other CPSE in the oil and gas sector under consolidation," she said.

The Cabinet decided on the "strategic disinvestment of BPCL's shareholding of 61.65% in NRL along with transfer of management control to a Central Public Sector Enterprise (CPSE) operating in the oil and gas sector," an official statement said.

Disinvestment Secretary T.K. Pandey told the media that the disinvestment of BPCL may be be carried out in two phases.

The government may consider two-phased disinvestment for public sector oil refiner and retailer BPCL if the initial strategic sale of the entire 53.29% government stake in the company fails to get requisite response.

Read: Why BPCL employees are holding a nationwide strike against firm’s privatisation

IANS had earlier reported that due to concerns over lack of interest among market players, including global majors, investors may not commit to pump in close to Rs 1 lakh crore required to complete the transaction at one go.

The government has tried this model earlier during the strategic disinvestment of metal and mining PSUs -- Hindustan Zinc Ltd and BALCO. Then Atal Bihari Vajpayee government had retained minority shareholding in these PSUs after the sale and change of management control.

At current share prices, government's 53.29% stake in BPCL is worth around Rs 60,000 crore. This is likely to help the government meet its higher disinvestment target of Rs 1,05,000 crore for the financial year 2019-2020.

In terms of CONCOR, the government would disinvest 30.8%, out of the 54.8% equity the government currently holds, and will retain the remaining 24%. The management control in CONCOR will still change hands, Pandey said.

Two PSUs under the strategic disinvestment plan, THDC and NEEPCO, will be taken over by another state-run power major NTPC.

Official sources said NTPC may offer close to Rs 10,000 crore for picking up the entire stake held by the Centre in the two companies. Though the transaction advisor will come to valuations about the entities later, the portfolio of projects with NEEPCO and THDC make it a fit case to command good value.

The Centre holds 100 per cent stake in NEEPCO that operates close to 1,500 MW of power plants in the northeastern region, while it has 75% holding in THDC. The Uttar Pradesh government holds the balance 25% stake in THDC India.

In another decision, the Finance Minister said the government would lower stake below 51% in select PSUs while retaining the management control. The decision to bring down Centre's stake will be taken on a case-to-case basis, she said.

The Disinvestment Secretary said that even with government holding falling below 51%, these companies would continue to retain the PSU character and the move will not require any amendments to laws governing the PSUs.

From the stake sale in SCI and CONCOR, the government is likely to get over Rs 2,000 crore and Rs 10,500 crore, respectively, at current stock prices of the company.

Among other decisions, the CCEA approved certain measures for the effective implementation of initiatives to revive the construction sector.

It also cleared the amendments proposed in the Toll-Operate-Transfer (TOT) model by National Highways Authority of India (NHAI). 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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