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Govt puts on hold BPCL divestment as most bidders walk out

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Govt puts on hold BPCL divestment as most bidders walk out

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The government had planned to sell its entire 52.98 percent stake in Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL) and invited expressions of interest (EoIs) from bidders in March 2020. Mining mogul Anil Agarwal's Vedanta group and 2 funds had put in bids.

The government on May 26 withdrew its offer to sell its entire 52.98 percent stake in BPCL, saying that the majority of bidders have expressed their inability to participate in the current privatisation process due to prevailing conditions in the global energy market. The government had planned to sell its entire 52.98 percent stake in Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL) and invited expressions of interest (EoIs) from bidders in March 2020. At least three bids came in by November 2020.

However, the privatisation was stalled after two bidders walked out over issues such as lack of clarity in fuel pricing, with just one bidder left in the fray. The Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) said the multiple COVID-19 waves and geopolitical conditions affected industries globally, particularly the oil and gas industry.

"Owing to prevailing conditions in the global energy market, the majority of QIPs (qualified interested parties) have expressed their inability to continue in the current process of disinvestment of BPCL," it said. In view of this, the Group of Ministers on Disinvestment has decided to call off the present EoI process for the strategic disinvestment of BPCL and the EoIs received from QIPs shall stand cancelled, DIPAM said.

"Decision on the re-initiation of the strategic disinvestment process of BPCL will be taken in due course based on review of situation," it added. Mining mogul Anil Agarwal's Vedanta group and US venture funds Apollo Global Management Inc and I Squared Capital Advisors had expressed interest in buying the government's 53 percent stake in BPCL.

But the two funds withdrew after failing to rope in global investors amid waning interest in fossil fuels. The government had not invited financial bids.

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