In a late evening development, the government clarified that it had successfully auctioned all the 42.8 crore shares of ONGC, representing 5% of the oil company’s equity.
Earlier, it was reported that bids had been received for only 29.2 crore shares worth about Rs 8,500 crore, against the government’s target of Rs 12,500 crore. It had raised fears of denting the government’s plan to sell its stakes in other public sector units through the auction route."Around 3:15 (pm) onwards, a large number of bids came in and obviously the system could not cope up. We have also requested SEBI (Securities and Exchange Board of India) to see why these bids were not uploaded," said Siddhartha Pradhan, Additional Secretary, Department of Disinvestment.
He said a bid for a lot of around 12 crore shares was not recorded due to a system error, which was later rectified. “Roughly 40-odd crore shares have been uploaded and we have raised above Rs 12,000 crore,” he said.
The Centre, which holds a 74.1% stake in the company, had proposed to sell through the auction at a floor price of Rs 290 per share. “This response will give confidence to the government and we may see more stake sale through share auction route in other public sector units,” said Jagannadham Thunuguntla, head of research, SMC Global Securities.
The auction process was in use for the first time since the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) last month allowed shareholders of the country’s top 100 companies to raise funds by auctioning their stakes through stock exchanges.