• BPCL sale on back burner

    The government has put the privatization of Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL) on hold. Several reasons, like rising crude prices and indifferent performance of the BPCL share, are said to be responsible for the halt.

    “BPCL privatization is not on track,” a senior official in the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (Dipam) informed Bizz Buzz. “It’s not moving. Decision is on the table. We have to take it.”

    He, however, didn’t specify what decision the government is contemplating. The Dipam official actually confirmed what Vedanta Group Chairman Anil Agarwal had said on April 24. “It (BPCL divestment) will not happen. They’ve said that they (the government) have withdrawn the offer, they will come back with a new strategy,” he had told a news website.

    Vedanta Resources and private equity (PE) firms Apollo Global and I Squared Capital’s arm Think Gas had expressed interest in BPCL in November 2020, though Think Gas opted out later. Vedanta Resources was even reportedly planning to raise a $10-billion fund to buy the government’s 52.98 per cent equity in the oil major.

    The government intended to privatize BPCL by March 2021, but even financial bids have not been invited. One reason for the delay was the Covid pandemic.

    When the privatization process was ongoing, BPCL last year sold its 61.65 per cent equity in the Assam-based Numaligarh Refinery Ltd (NRL) for Rs 98.75 billion. NRL sale, however, was not a privatization, as the company was bought by a consortium of two public sector companies, Oil India Ltd and Engineers India Ltd (49 per cent), and the Assam government (13.65 per cent).

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