It is the world’s largest producer of coal. Next month, it will also offer what is expected to be country's biggest initial public offering till date. Like its areas of operation in the far eastern tribal belts, State-run Coal India Limited, has always been low key but with its mega R14,000 crore listing that will be altered forever. Its 59-year-old chairman and managing director Partha S. Bhattacharya talks to Hindustan Times about the company's road ahead.
The company’s IPO is expected to be the biggest in the country’s history but it has had its fair share of hurdles. What is the status right now?
We are all set to launch the IPO in the middle of October and the draft red herring prospectus has already been filed.
By next week, we will convene a board meeting where the red herring prospectus will be tabled and thereafter filed.
The trade unions of the company had some issues initially but we held discussions with them at various levels and all apprehensions have been dispelled. I see no further roadblocks.
How will the IPO change the functioning of the company?
Coal India has been a very professionally and successfully run company, one that has achieved and surpassed various targets in the past. The listing will not alter the fundamental functioning of the company per say. What it will do instead is create awareness about the company and allow the public at large to be part of the Coal India story. We have also reserved 6.3 crore shares for our employees, which works out to be 150 shares per employee, as we would like to see them becoming beneficiaries of the firm’s growth. Let them also feel empowered.
Any tangible gains for the company from the listing?
Currently we are a navratna PSU and after the listing, we are hopeful of being upgraded to the maharatna status.
This will give us greater autonomy in buying natural resource assets overseas as it will increase the investment ceiling to R5,000 crore without prior approval of the government.
What’s the status of overseas mine acquisition so far?
Work on our two coal blocks in Mozambique is progressing as per plan, and we are in the market for fresh acquisitions. We received 10 proposals from five companies who were interested in a partnership with us and we have zeroed down on three companies now. Peabody energy is one of the them and the other two are Australian and Indonesian companies. We will arrive at a decision very soon
Mining has received a lot of bad name in the recent past with accusations of land grabbing attached with many major miners in the country. How do you manage issues like inclusiveness and land acquisition?
We have always believed in inclusive development and over the last four-five years have laid greater stress on relief and rehabilitation aspects. In fact, before I became the chairman, relief and rehabilitation had been very low in the priority list. Our belief is that wherever Coal India is operating, the local people should benefit and see development and progress in their lives. Hence we have invested heavily in these aspects. Through our various subsidiaries, we have created 1 lakh seats for education and built 85 hospitals. On CSR counts, Coal India is second to none.