In a veritable game of musical chairs, energy giants Reliance Industries and ONGC pipped each other several times to the position of the country's most-valued firm during afternoon trade in the stock market on Friday.
In early afternoon trade, ONGC toppled RIL as the country's most valued firm, but its lead lasted only for a few seconds before the private sector corporate giant grabbed the top slot again.
Within minutes, ONGC again passed RIL on the market valuation charts, albeit only for a few seconds, and a kind of race was on between the two, with less than a 0.1% difference in their market valuations.
At 1313 hours, ONGC shares were trading 0.43% up on the BSE, giving the company a market value of Rs 242,462 crore, higher than RIL's Rs 242,201 crore.
At that time, RIL shares were down 1.93%.
However, RIL regained its lead over ONGC after it pared some of the losses and the state-run company's stock pared some of the gains.
After again losing out to RIL for a few minutes, ONGC took the lead after the Mukesh Ambani-led company's shares extended their losses.
At 1326 hours, RIL shares were down 2.16%, while ONGC was up 0.21%. This gave RIL a market value of Rs 241,631 crore, slightly lower than ONGC's Rs 241,943 crore.
At the end of Thursday's trade, RIL was the country's most-valued firm with a market valuation of Rs 246,965 crore, followed by ONGC's Rs 241,436 crore.
Earlier, on August 23, RIL had regained the top slot in the market valuation charts after losing its status as the country's most-valued company to another state-run firm, Coal India, six days earlier.
At that time, ONGC was ranked third after RIL and CIL, but the coal major has lost ground since then and is now ranked third.
CIL toppled RIL on August 17 to emerge as the country's most-valued firm, thus ending the private sector giant's over four-year reign at the top of the market valuation charts.
Two days later on August 19, RIL briefly fell behind ONGC to third position in the market valuation charts, but returned to the second slot before the markets closed that day.
RIL had first toppled ONGC to become the country's most-valued firm way back in late 2006, but the state-run energy giant later reclaimed the top position, albeit only for a brief period. RIL has managed to stay on the top since February, 2007, except for some days in the past week.
Marketmen would be keenly watching RIL and ONGC shares Friday to see which company emerges on top by the market close Friday.