The government will identify state-run companies for divesting equity and might sell its shares in as many as 60 companies, the finance ministry said on Friday.
“There are 10 public sector undertakings listed with less than 10 per cent public shareholding,” Disinvestment Secretary Sunil Mitra told reporters.
“There are 50 unlisted public sector undertakings with positive net worth and have recorded net profit in the last three consecutive years,” he said.
Mitra said the disinvestment department is in talks with administrative ministries of several central public sector undertakings (CPSUs) such as Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL), Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) and Coal India Ltd (CIL) among others.
Earlier this month, the Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had approved a new plan to divest equity in state-owned enterprises. The plan that public should hold at least 10 per cent shares in all profitable CPSUs that are listed on stock exchanges.
There are 10 listed public sector units where public shareholding is less than 10 per cent. They include companies such as National Mineral Development Corporation, MMTC and Neyveli Lignite.
The government has also decided that all unlisted CPSUs that have made profit in the past 3 years and have a positive net worth (assets greater than liabilities) should, get listed on stock exchanges.
Mitra refused to set a time frame for the process and also did not say on the amount of money government expect to raise by selling its shares in these companies.
“We are in interaction with them but it does not mean that we are close to divesting them... All this is a function of a number of factors,” he said.
Since the United Progressive Alliance government came to office for the second term this May, two public sector companies — NHPC and Oil India —have listed on the bourses.
The government has already approved stake sales in power producing companies NTPC Ltd, Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam (SJVN) and Rural Electrification Corporation (REC) marking the first steps to kick-start the stalled disinvestment programme.