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BPCL Privatisation: SEBI unlikely to exempt open offers for Petronet, IGL

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India's capital market regulator is unlikely to give exemption to the company acquiring BPCL from making mandatory open offers for Petronet LNG Ltd and Indraprastha Gas - share purchases which will be countered by other promoters of the two firms such as GAIL to save from going private, officials said.

BPCL Privatisation: SEBI unlikely to exempt open offers for Petronet, IGL
India's capital market regulator is unlikely to give exemption to the company acquiring BPCL from making mandatory open offers for Petronet LNG Ltd and Indraprastha Gas - share purchases which will be countered by other promoters of the two firms such as GAIL to save from going private, officials said. Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL) holds 12.5 percent of the shareholding in India's largest liquefied natural gas importer, Petronet, and a 22.5 percent stake in city gas retailer, IGL. It is a promoter of both the listed companies and holds board positions.
As per the legal position evaluated by the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) - the department running the process for the sale of the government's entire 52.98 percent stake in BPCL - the acquirer of BPCL will have to make open offers to the minority shareholders of Petronet and IGL for the acquisition of 26 percent shares. To avoid such a scenario, an exemption request was made to the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).
"We have been informally told that the exemption request is unlikely to be acceded as SEBI mandate is to protect minority shareholder interest," a top government official, who did not wish to be named as the information is not public, said. If the open offers are successful, the acquirer of BPCL would also become the largest shareholder in Petronet (12.5 percent of BPCL plus 26 percent from the public) and get a controlling holding in IGL (22.5 percent of BPCL and 26 percent from public).
"So in essence, the two companies will also get divested alongside BPCL," the official said. To check this from happening, the other promoters of Petronet and IGL would also launch counter offers to buy an equivalent 26 percent stake so as to ensure public sector firms retain a controlling stake.
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