India is considering selling up to a quarter of state-run refiner Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd after failing to attract suitors for the whole firm, two officials said, as the government's divestment programme moves slower than expected, Reuters reported.
New Delhi is considering inviting bids for a 20%–25% stake in BPCL, instead of an outright sale of its entire 52.98% holding, the two government officials, who declined to be named, told Reuters.
The officials said discussions about the plan were in the early stages.
The Indian government had ambitious plans to sell its entire 53 per cent stake in BPCL to private players in 2021-22, but this target was pushed back to 2022-23 due to delays.
Initially, the government had aimed to raise $8–$10 billion by selling its full stake in BPCL.
Having drawn up plans four years ago, it invited bids in 2020, hoping major players such as Russia's Rosneft might be interested.
But Rosneft and Saudi Aramco did not bid, as low oil prices at that time and weak demand curbed their investment plans.
Even a partial sale of BPCL, according to government officials, is unlikely to be completed this fiscal year because the process would take more than a year.
One of them said that sales prospects were hit by inconsistent policies on petrol and diesel prices.
Private equity firm Apollo Global Management and oil-to-metals conglomerate Vedanta Group were the final bidders, they said.
In 2020, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced plans to privatise most state-run companies, including banks, mining companies, and insurers.
Meanwhile, the Centre has put on hold the sale of loss-making helicopter service provider Pawan Hans as it is legally examining a National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) order against Almas Global, which is part of the winning consortium, according to media reports.
In April, the Centre selected M/s Star9 Mobility Pvt Ltd, a consortium of M/s Big Charter Private Limited, M/s Maharaja Aviation Private Limited and M/s Almas Global Opportunity Fund SPC, as the winning bidder for Pawan Hans to buy the government's 51% stake in the loss-making helicopter service provider.
On the other hand, shares of LIC debuted on the BSE at 867 rupees, down nearly 9% against its issue price of 949 rupees.