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Home / Business News / Dozens of queries show investor appetite for India oil firm sale

Dozens of queries show investor appetite for India oil firm sale

A government official had previously said that several top oil producers from the Middle East and Russia’s Rosneft PJSC have shown interest in buying BPCL, which is India’s third-biggest refiner and second-largest fuel retailer.

business Updated: Jul 24, 2020 16:03 IST
Bloomberg | Posted by Arpan Rai
Bloomberg | Posted by Arpan Rai
Fuel pumps are seen at a Bharat Petroleum gas station in Mumbai.
Fuel pumps are seen at a Bharat Petroleum gas station in Mumbai.(Reuters)

India’s biggest asset sale program is drawing interest from global investors despite the volatility in the oil markets and devastating fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.

As many as 81 queries were sent by prospective bidders vying for state-owned oil refiner-cum-fuel retailer Bharat Petroleum Corp., according to officials with knowledge of the matter. While the questions from multiple international oil majors is a reflection of interest, it doesn’t mean they will translate into bids, they said, without disclosing how many companies have sought clarifications.

A government official had previously said that several top oil producers from the Middle East and Russia’s Rosneft PJSC have shown interest in buying BPCL, which is India’s third-biggest refiner and second-largest fuel retailer.

The Indian government is in the process of clarifying these queries through a corrigendum to the offer document, and will go ahead with the privatization. The process can rake in a sizable amount and support its coffers depleted by sluggish tax revenues and dole outs to shield the poor from the virus fallout.

BPCL is a high-quality asset and its value hasn’t eroded despite the fall in share price, the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is not public.

Spokespeople at the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas didn’t respond to queries seeking comment.

The government doesn’t plan to dilute the $10 billion net worth clause for bidders, showing the administration’s confidence in getting bigger players for the transaction. Only two Indian companies make the cut, of which only one is in the oil and gas sector, the people said, referring to Reliance Industries Ltd.

The last date for submitting initial bids for Indian government’s 52.98% holding in BPCL is July 31.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is offering employees shares at a discounted price as an incentive for the privatization, they said.

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