BPCL receives three preliminary bids, says Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan
Pradhan said the government is looking to privatise some of the state-owned companies to bring in professionalism and competition
New Delhi: The government has received three preliminary bids for buying of controlling stake in India’s second-largest fuel retailer Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL), Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said on Wednesday. Mining-to-oil conglomerate Vedanta had on November 18 confirmed putting in an expression of interest (EoI) for buying the government’s 52.98 per cent stake in BPCL. The other two bidders are said to be global funds, one of them being Apollo Global Management.
“Lot of interest is there,” Pradhan said at a webinar series on ‘The Road To Atmanirbhar Bharat’ organised by Swarajya Magazine. “DIPAM has recently informed market… I think three parties have given EoI for the bidding process.”
He did not give details.
Tuhin Kanta Pandey, Secretary, Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM), which is handling the strategic sale, had tweeted on November 16 – the last date for bidding – that the transaction advisors (TA) for the sale have reported receiving “multiple expressions of interest.”
“The transaction will move to the second stage after scrutiny by TA,” he had said.
Pradhan said the government is looking to privatise some of the state-owned companies to bring in professionalism and competition.
“As I have earlier said the government is committed to offloading its share from some state-owned companies. That way more professionalism and competition will come. We are committed and keen on that aspect,” he said.
A special purpose vehicle floated by the BSE-listed Vedanta Ltd and its London-based parent Vedanta Resources submitted an EoI before the close of the deadline on November 16.
The government is selling its entire 52.98 per cent stake in BPCL as part of plans to raise a record Rs 2.1 lakh crore from disinvestment proceeds in 2020-21 (April 2020 to March 2021).
But share price of BPCL has plunged by nearly a fourth since the time the strategic sale was approved in November last year.
At Wednesday’s trading price of Rs 385 on BSE, the government’s 52.98 per cent stake in BPCL is worth just over Rs 44,200 crore. Also, the acquirer would have to make an open offer for buying another 26 per cent stake from the public, which would cost about Rs 21,600 crore.
Vedanta’s interest in BPCL stems from its USD 8.67 billion acquisition of oil producer Cairn India nearly a decade back. The company produces oil from oilfields in Rajasthan which are used in refineries such as those operated by BPCL to turn them into petrol, diesel and other fuels.
Sources said transaction advisors have begun evaluating the EoIs to ascertain if the bidders meet the qualifying criteria and have the financial muscle to do the acquisition.
This process may take two-three weeks, thereafter a request for proposal (RFP) will be issued and financial bids sought.
BPCL will give the buyer ownership to 15.33 per cent of India’s oil refining capacity and 22 per cent of the fuel marketing share.
BPCL operates four refineries in Mumbai (Maharashtra), Kochi (Kerala), Bina (Madhya Pradesh), and Numaligarh (Assam) with a combined capacity of 38.3 million tonnes per annum, which is 15.3 per cent of India’s total refining capacity of 249.8 million tonnes.
While the Numaligarh refinery will be carved out of BPCL and sold to a PSU, the new buyer of the company will get 35.3 million tonnes of refining capacity — 12 million tonnes Mumbai unit, 15.5 million tonnes Kochi refinery and 7.8 million tonnes Bina unit.
It also owns 17,355 petrol pumps, 6,156 LPG distributor agencies and 61 out of 256 aviation fuel stations in the country.
BPCL is India’s second-largest oil marketing company with a standalone domestic sales volume of over 43.10 million tonnes and a market share of 22 per cent during FY20. It is India’s sixth-largest company by turnover.
Its petrol pumps sell more fuel than the industry average — BPCL pumps sell 124 kilolitres per month as compared to the industry average of 116, according to the company website.
The firm also has an upstream presence with 26 assets in nine countries such as Russia, Brazil, Mozambique, the UAE, Indonesia, Australia, East Timor, Israel and India. It is also making a foray into city gas distribution and has licences for 37 geographical areas (GAs).