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Strategic sale of PSUs to gain momentum post Diwali

10:44 PM Oct 22, 2020 | IANS

The government's disinvestment programme is set to gather pace next month as bids for at least four to five public sector companies lined up for strategic sale get invited with the aim of completing the deal in the last quarter of FY21.

The Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) is set to initiate the strategic sale process of four PSUs including Concor, BEML, Shipping Corporation and BPCL in November. And if the process gets suitable investor interest, officials said financial bids and actual sale would be completed during the January-March quarter.

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Along with strategic sale in profit making PSUs, the long pending disinvestment and asset monetisation plan involving two steel making units of SAIL and Neelanchal Ispat Nigam Ltd will also be taken up for completion.

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DIPAM has also sounded about a dozen PSUs to be ready for buying back government shares in the company close to Diwali or by December-January period.

The disinvestment department has stepped on the gas on the share sale programme as the Covid-19 pandemic has completely disturbed its momentum this year with the government so far mobilising just about Rs 5,500 crore as disinvestment receipts as against a target of Rs 2.1 lakh crore for FY21.

In the case of BPCL, the general sense now is that the company would attract investor interest as its books have been cleared of losses on inventory as the oil market has remained stable. Moreover, a pick up in oil demand in the country would also make the company attractive for investors. The bidding process for BPCL has already been postponed on four occasions and government sources have now said that it would not be extended beyond November 19, the last date for filing EoI.

Policy measures ensuring a level playing field for Concor under new management have also been provided to remove any doubts in the mind of the acquirer. Similar changes have also been done for other companies to ensure investor interest and good valuation for the companies.

Government sources also said that bidding for Air India would be kick started by December and to ensure that the debt ridden airline invites interest, bidding conditions have been further sweetened. Investors have now been given the freedom to decide on the debt level for the airline while valuing it on enterprise value.

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