Millennium Post

'No more extension of BPCL privatisation bid deadline'

New Delhi: BPCL privatisation bid deadline will not be extended for the fifth time, as the government's strategic disinvestment programme that was hit by the pandemic is back on track, DIPAM Secretary said Monday.

The government had on four occasions extended the date of putting in the preliminary expression of interest for buying out the majority stake in Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL). The current deadline is November 16.

"We had a serious COVID impact on strategic disinvestment, investors asked for time, particularly with respect to key transactions. I hope that further extensions may not be there, especially in BPCL where the current date is November 16. So hopefully, we will be able to move through," Tuhin Kanta Pandey, Secretary in the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM), said.

While the Cabinet, in November last year, had approved the sale of the government's entire 52.98 per cent stake in BPCL, offers seeking expression of interest (EoI) or bids showing interest in buying its stake were invited only on March 7.

Initially, the EoI submission deadline was May 2, but it was first was extended up to June 13, then to July 31 and later to September 30 and then to November 16. Pandey said the extensions have been given following requests received from interested bidders.

The government is keen to close the sale before March 31, 2021, to help meet a record Rs 2.1 lakh crore target, which Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has set from the disinvestment proceeds in the Budget for 2020-21.

The government is proposing strategic disinvestment of its entire shareholding in BPCL comprising of 114.91 crore equity shares, which constitutes 52.98 per cent of BPCL's equity share capital along with transfer of management control to a strategic buyer (except BPCL's equity shareholding of 61.65 per cent in Numaligarh Refinery), the notice inviting offer said.

Numaligarh Refinery stake will be sold to a state-owned oil and gas firm. State explorer Oil India Ltd (OIL) and Engineers India Ltd (EIL) are likely to buy Numaligarh Refinery.

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