At a time when the talk is all about the government selling stake in profit-making public sector undertakings (PSU), the fate of smaller PSUs that urgently need capital infusion through divestment remains uncertain.
In some cases, small PSUs that were put on the block more than three years ago are yet to complete the sale process.
DPSC (formerly Dishergarh Power Supply) is a case in point. Steps to sell stake in this subsidiary of Kolkata-based engineering firm Andrew Yule & Co were started in 2006.
The government had proposed to sell 15 per cent of its stake along with the 42 per cent holding of financial institutions (LIC, GIC and UIC). But the auction process lingered on till late last year, when Srei Infrastructure was declared the lead bidder for a 57.7 per cent disinvestment-cum-stake sale on November 20.
Two months later, Srei Infra is still awaiting the transfer of shares. Only last week, Calcutta High Court had to direct LIC and the Andrew Yule management to seal the sale by January 29.
"Setting a time frame to complete the process of share sale in DPSC, the Calcutta High Court on January 19 directed LIC and the FIs (GIC and UIC) along with Andrew Yule to transfer their shares by January 28 to the highest bidder and complete the process by January 29," Hemant Kanoria, managing director of Srei Infra, told Hindustan Times.
But pending a formal issuance of the court order, the sellers are in no hurry to act. “We have not taken a decision," said LIC Managing Director Thomas Mathew. About the January 28 deadline he said, "There is still time. We will decide well on time."
Disinvestment secretary Sunil Mitra said, "Sale decision of this magnitude has to be decided by the insurance companies themselves. At this stage, we have no role here."
(inputs from Falaknaaz Syed)