NEW DELHI : The Centre has put the privatisation of state-run refiner BPCL on the backburner for now while a review of the sale process of Shipping Corporation of Indian (SCI ) will be undertaken shortly to move forward with the transaction, officials said.
Although privatisation of BPCL was identified as crucial for the Centre to meet its disinvestment target but the sale has faced several obstacles with Covid-19 proving tobe a major stumbling block in finalising a deal.
The Centre had rolled over the sale of a clutch of companies into the new financial year and among the prominent ones on the list were BPCL, SCI, Concor and BEML. All these transactions are now facing delays and could hurt the government’s plan of raising Rs 65,000 crore from stake sale in the current fiscal year. So far this year, it has raised Rs 3,026 crore.
With the transition to solar energy and other renewables being fast-tracked by several countries, the appetite for BPCL has been waning. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has also emerged as a major stumbling block to proceed with the sale, once considered a centrepiece of the government’s privatisation drive. Last year, some estimates had shown that the Centre was eyeing Rs 70,000 crore from the privatisation of BPCL and Anil Agarwal’s Vedanta and two overseas funds are among the suitors for the stateowned company. The Centre owns 52.98% in the oil refiner.
“The situation has changed. There is a move to solar and other clean energy. We have to take a call but at this moment, there is no forward movement,” said an official aware of the development.
The sale of Shipping Corporation of India (SCI) is also progressing at snail’s pace. The company had announced a plan to demerge its non-core assets. SCI wants to create a separate entity for its non-core assets in line with government policy. The demerger is yet to be approved and this could further delay the transaction. The Centre holds 63.74% in the company and the privatisation of the firm has also faced several roadblocks including the impact of the pandemic.
“We will undertake a review of the process soon and examine all the issues,” said an official. Globally, the shipping industry is undergoing tremendous stress due to the war in Ukraine and the uncertainty in the global economy.
For now, the focus of DIPAM (Department of Investment and Public Asset Management) is now concentrated on listing state-run insurance behemoth . While the issue has been delayed due to the war, officials are hoping to ensure that the IPO goes through by the first week of May. The Centre has slashed the valuation and the dilution of the stake against the backdrop of the pandemic.