‘It is a tragedy that the unions took the wrong call’ | business | Hindustan Times
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‘It is a tragedy that the unions took the wrong call’

The colour of profitability is black, and so is that of coal but perhaps never before has this analogy been justified as Thursday, when Coal India debuted on the Bombay Stock Exchange. Sumant Banerji speaks to CIL chairman and managing director, Partha Bhattacharya.

business Updated: Nov 04, 2010 22:15 IST
Sumant Banerji

The colour of profitability is black, and so is that of coal but perhaps never before has this analogy been justified as Thursday, when Coal India debuted on the Bombay Stock Exchange. Minutes after sounding the opening bell, CIL chairman and managing director Partha S. Bhattacharya knew for sure that he is at the helm of a company that is worth its weight in gold, black gold. He spoke with HT on the IPO, its stupendous success and its cracker of a listing. Excerpts:

Did you expect this kind of a response to the IPO and such a price surge on opening day?

Qualitatively, we knew the IPO will get a good response if we could convince investors both domestic and foreign of the strong fundamentals of the company. The fact that we were able to do that is exemplified by so many prominent investors lining up to buy our stock. Quantitatively though, I have to be honest we did not expect the stock to surge this much. We thought there would be a fair number of investors who would be looking to book profits on day one.

Trade unions have been opposing this divestment. What do you have to say to them now?

We kept 6.3 crore shares for the employees but because of the resistance from the Unions, many of our employees could not reap the benefit of this IPO. It is a tragedy that the unions took the wrong call and it is well proved today.

How do you justify the high volumes and string buying sentiment in the stock?

Obviously there is a lot of pent up demand among investors who missed out and who despite the over 30% surge in price, still see value in the share. I do expect the price to stabilise somewhat in the coming days as some investors will cash out, but like I have said all throughout, the long term story is very strong.

Is this the highest point in your personal career?
Of course it is and I can retire (in February) a contented man, now that the firm is recognised world over for the right reasons. Prior to this IPO, Coal India was known for all wrong reasons like corruption and illegal mining but now it is a great opportunity where we have made a mark for all the right reasons.

The management of this company has always been very strong and it is because of this that we have covered the ground from being seen as a loss making inefficient mining company 35 years ago to one of the country’s biggest companies now.