Mukesh Ambani-controlled Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) and public sector Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) are likely to bid for Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL) equity stake after the core group of secretaries on disinvestment (CGD) recently recommended the sale of government’s entire 53.29 per cent stake in the public sector oil marketing company to a strategic investor, according to Nomura Research, a Japanese stockbroker.
“With the committee of secretaries recommending complete stake sale, we think the probability of BPCL privatisation has increased. We think cabinet approval will be a formality. Also, with acts under which BPCL was nationalised repealed, there should not be much legal roadblock,” said Nomura.
According to the note circulated to investors, Nomura said RIL will bid for BPCL’s stake despite the company looking to reduce stake in refining/chemicals and planning to be a zero net debt company. Acquisition of BPCL’s stake will get RIL 25 per cent market share plus access to the PSU’s real estate. “IOC should also show interest. Also, it may be asked to buy, if other investors don’t bid. However, exemption from competition commission may be required,” said the Nomura note.
The research outfit, however, felt there would not be much interest in the BPCL stake by global companies. “We think global investor interest may be lukewarm. Given India’s history of nationalising earlier, concern on interference in fuel pricing despite de-regulation, and also short timelines, we think interest from super majors may be less,” said Nomura.
STAKE SALE NOT TO AFFECT BPCL’S KERALA EXPANSION
PROPYLENE DERIVATIVES PETROCHEMICAL PROJECT:
Meanwhile, officials said the proposed stake sale in BPCL to a strategic investor would not affect the company’s ongoing expansion plans in Kerala. BPCL’s Propylene Derivatives Petrochemical Project (PDPP) at Kochi is nearing completion, marking the next stage of growth of Kochi Refinery which is developing into a world-class integrated refinery-cum petrochemical complex. The entry marked BPCL’s foray into the petrochemical sector. The feedstock for the project is approximately 250,000 MT per annum of Polymer Grade Propylene. This also marks the first step towards the development of Kochi as a petrochemical hub envisaged by the State and Central government.
170-ACRE LAND PURCHASE:
Similarly, BPCL is also going ahead with the purchase of the 170-acre of land owned by Fertilizers and Chemicals Travancore (FACT) at Ambalamedu for the polyols project. Recently, the central government allowed the state government-owned Kerala Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (Kinfra) will acquire the 481 acres through a ‘direct registration process’ or ‘negotiated purchase’ route from FACT. Out of the 481 acres, BPCL-Kochi will take 170-acre on lease for its polyols project. “As far as Kinfra is concerned, we do not see any hindrance in the sale of 170-acres to BPCL, said Santhosh Koshy Thomas managing director, Kinfra.
The Rs 11,300-crore project by BPCL will produce polyols, which are used in the production of polyurethanes used in automotive seats, mattresses and shoe soles. The project is expected to take off by 2022. Formalities for the speedy land transfer to Kinfra was finalised at a meeting last month and the government is expected to issue a notification in this regard soon.