Government calls off BPCL privatisation; to re-initiate disinvestment in ‘due course’

Government calls off BPCL privatisation; to re-initiate disinvestment in ‘due course’

26 May    Finance News

The Centre on Thursday called off the process for the strategic disinvestment of BPCL and said the expressions of interest (EoIs) received in this connection “shall stand cancelled.”

The plan to sell its entire 52.98% stake in the fuel retailer-cum-refiner had hit dead-end as potential investors have turned more sceptical of “the lack of pricing freedom” with state-owned fuel retailers, besides the global shift for greener energy. Two bidders even walked out from the privatisation process.

“Decision on the re-initiation of the strategic disinvestment process of BPCL will be taken in due course based on review of situation,” the department of investment and public asset management (Dipam) said in a statement.

“Owing to prevailing conditions in the global energy market, the majority of QIPs (qualified interested parties) have expressed their inability to continue in the current process of disinvestment of BPCL,” it said.

The government’s stake in BPCL is worth about Rs 37,300 crore at the market prices. BPCL stake sale was a key component of the Centre’s Rs 65,000 crore disinvestment programme in FY23.

With BPCL off the table, the Centre is banking on disinvestment of its stake in privately-run Hindustan Zinc (HZL) to achieve the target. On Wednesday, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs had approved the plan. The Centre’s 29.54% stake in HZL is worth about Rs 37,326 crore at the current market prices.

The government had invited EoIs from bidders for strategic disinvestment of BPCL in March 2020. In November 2020, three bidders, including Vedanta, Apollo Global Management and Think Gas (I Squared Capital), showed interest in the government’s stake in BPCL.

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