Millennium Post

ONGC divestment roadshows from 17 Nov

The government will begin roadshows to attract investors to the planned 5 per cent stake sale in Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) from 17 November. Roadshows will be held in Singapore, Hong Kong, London, New York and Boston, a top government official said. The government has not yet firmed up a timeline for the stake sale that at current rate will fetch it over Rs 17,200 crore.

Citigroup, HSBC Securities, UBS Securities, ICICI Securities and Kotak Mahindra Capital are managing the sale.

Government, which holds 68.94 per cent stake in ONGC, is selling 42.77 crore or 5 per cent of its holding.

'That (stake sale date) has not yet been decided. We will decide that during the course of the roadshows or immediately after that,' he said. The roadshows will end by last week of November and the stake sale can happen immediately after that or in the first half of December.

The government is keen to appoint three new independent directors on the board of ONGC before the roadshows. 'We now have a clarity on the natural gas prices and can present to investors a better picture of ONGC,' the official said.

On 18 October, the government raised natural gas prices by 33 per cent to $5.61 per million British thermal unit, a rate which will boast ONGC profits by close to Rs 2,000 crore.

Also, the fall in international oil rates have meant that ONGC's fuel subsidy burden is reduced. Upstream oil producers like ONGC make up for close to half of the losses that state-owned fuel retailers incur on selling diesel and cooking fuel at government controlled rates.

In 2013-14, fuel retailers lost Rs 1,39,869 crore in revenue. Most of this met by cash support from government (Rs 70,772 crore) and upstream firms (Rs 67,021 crore). This fiscal, the revenue losses are estimated at around Rs 86,000 crore. Out of this, Rs 28,691 crore have already been account for in the first quarter and another Rs 21,198 crore in July-September period.

Lower subsidy burden and clarity on gas price will boost ONGC earnings and share price, the government feels. This would help it realise a better price in the stake sale. The government had last sold 5 per cent stake in ONGC in 2012 for Rs 14,000 crore.

In the current fiscal the government plans to mop up Rs 43,425 crore from selling stake in various state-owned firms.
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