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Oil India Ltd to set up arm for foreign asset acquisitions

The Board of Oil India Ltd, the nation's second biggest state-owned explorer, has approved the setting up of an overseas arm to acquire oil and gas properties abroad. The OIL Board in its meeting on 10 April approved 'incorporation of a wholly owned subsidiary,' company director (finance) T K Ananth Kumar said.

The subsidiary will be set up on the lines of ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL), the overseas arm of state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC), and Bharat PetroResources, a unit of state refiner Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL).

The yet-to-be-named subsidiary will have a full-board headed by a managing director, he said. 'The benefit of  forming a overeseas subsidiary will be that it can give focused attention to overseas acquisitions. Also, the parent company will be diluted from liability of overseas assets.'

OIL has so far been partnering Indian Oil Corp (IOC), the nation's largest refinery, in its overseas ventures. They had even set up a Mauritius-based special purpose vehicle for overseas acquisition.

He said all future acquisition will be done by the new subsidiary which will be incorporated in due course. 'The board has given us permission for the subsidiary. Now work will be initiated.' All overseas assets that Oil India Ltd currently holds will migrate to the new subsidiary, he added.

The then Oil Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar had encouraged OIL-IOC to go overseas in direct competition with OVL, which he said was not nimble-footed when it came to acquisitions. The Cabinet in 2005 approved setting up a 50:50 special purpose vehicle of OIL-IOC for overseas activities.

OIL has created a war-chest of $1 billion-$1.5 billion for acquisition of discovered or producing mid-sized oil and gas properties in Africa, Central Asia and Russia. It along with IOC has been looking at certain assets in the US, Africa, Australia, Canada and Central Asia.

Oil India Ltd has properties in Libya, Gabon, Iran, Yemen, Nigeria, Egypt, and Venezuela. 'We want to grow inorganically and the new subsidiary will help accelerate efforts for opportunities abroad,' Kumar said.

Like ONGC Videsh Ltd, the 100 per cent subsidiary of OIL will have a full-time Managing Director and directors for finance, operations and exploration. It will also have two government nominee directors as well as independent directors.

Oil India Ltd directors would be special invitee directors on the subsidiary company’s board.
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