While the names of the companies that have submitted expression of interests (EoIs) were not disclosed, sources told TOI that three-four players were in the zone of contention, although Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries, and global majors such as Saudi Aramco, BP, Total, ExxonMobil and Rosneft stayed away. “We have completed the first round, now the technical advisor (Deloitte) will evaluate the proposals and eligible players over the next two weeks or so,” department of investment and public asset management (Dipam) secretary Tuhin Kanta Pandey told TOI.
Based on current market price, the government can hope to mop up over Rs 43,700 crore if the transaction goes through. The successful bidder will also have to spend about Rs 23,276 crore to make an open offer for buying another 26% stake from the public.
BPCL may turn out to be the first privatisation under the watch of the Narendra Modi government since it came to power over six years ago. Despite its stated policy, it has failed to complete any transaction with private players as lawmakers as well as civil servants have moved with added caution in the wake of multiple investigations, which in many cases continued until almost two decades after the sale.
“Strategic disinvestment of BPCL progresses: Now moves to the second stage after multiple expressions of interest have been received,” finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman tweeted.
Strategic disinvestment of BPCL progresses: Now moves to the second stage after multiple expressions of interest ha… https://t.co/3KK7rCOSqM
— Nirmala Sitharaman (@nsitharaman) 1605530324000
The second stage entails evaluation of EoIs to see whether they meet the prescribed financial and other criteria for shortlisting. In the next stage, the shortlisted entities will be asked for RFPs (request for proposals) and financial bids. But this may take months as the pandemic is making visits to plants, infrastructure and other assets difficult. Pandey, however, told TOI that this may not be a major worry as air routes have opened again and technology can aid the evaluation process.