BPCL Disinvestment: Govt Not To Go Ahead Current Plan; To Draw New Strategy, Says Anil Agarwal

Vedanta Resources Chairman Anil Agarwal said the government has decided not to go ahead with Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd’s (BPCL) privatisation plan and has told its suitors that it will revise the plan and come to market.

Among the firms to be disinvested this year, three companies on the table are Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL), RINL and Pawan Hans.

About the status of the BPCL divestment, Agarwal in an interview with Moneycontrol said, “It will not happen. They’ve said that they have withdrawn the offer, they will come back with a new strategy.”

“Generally, they have given a statement, they’re not going ahead. Not in this format,” Agarwal said.

The government has not officially made a statement on whether the plan has been dropped in its current form.

The central government had a plan to sell its entire 53 per cent stake in BPCL to private players in 2021-22, but after delays, this target was shifted to 2022-23. Vedanta Group, Apollo Global Management, and private equity major I Squared Capital-backed Think Gas were the buyers to show interest.

Recently, Minister of State for Finance Bhagwat Karad told in the Rajya Sabha that the disinvestment process of oil marketing firm Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL) has reached the second stage and many expressions of interest (EoI) have been received regarding its transition.

The government is selling its entire 52.98 per cent stake in BPCL for which three expressions of interest (EoIs), including one from billionaire Anil Agarwal-led Vedanta Group, have been received. Financial bids are yet to be invited.

At the current market price, the 52.98 per cent stake is valued at about Rs 45,000 crore. The government invited expression of interest from bidders in March 2020 from selling BPCL and by November 2020 at least three bids had come in.

The central government has a disinvestment target of Rs 65,000 crore for the current financial year 2022-23, according to Union Budget documents. For the financial year 2021-22, it had set a disinvestment target of Rs 1.75 lakh crore in the last year’s budget. Out of this only Rs 78,000 crore could be achieved, a reduction of 55.4 per cent.

In the previous year’s Budget Speech 2021, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said, “We have kept four areas that are strategic where bare minimum CPSEs [central public sector enterprises] will be maintained and rest privatised.”

The government is expected to finalize the sale of ailing helicopter operator Pawan Hans on Saturday and bids from JSW Steel and Jindal Steel & Power Ltd (JSPL) have been received, according to a media report quoting sources. The Pawan Hans disinvestment Hans is estimated to fetch Rs 300-350 crore.

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