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BPCL Divestment Not On The Table As Of Now, Says Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri

Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Thursday said the divestment of Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL) is not on the table as of now. Minister of State for Finance Bhagwat Kishanrao Karad also said a majority of qualified interested parties have expressed inability to continue in the current process of disinvestment of BPCL, according to an ET report.

The government earlier planned to sell its entire 52.98 per cent stake in BPCL for which three expressions of interest (EoIs), including one from billionaire Anil Agarwal-led Vedanta Group, have been received.

In May, the government called off the EoI process for BPCL’s privatisation, which was dubbed as India’s biggest ever, as the majority of bidders have expressed their “inability to continue in the current process of disinvestment of BPCL”, DIPAM had informed.

The DIPAM in May had said multiple Covid-19 waves and geo-political conditions affected multiple industries globally, particularly oil and gas industry. Owing to prevailing conditions in the global energy market, the majority of QIPs have expressed their inability to continue in the current process of disinvestment of BPCL.

The government invited expression of interest from bidders in March 2020 from selling BPCL and by November 2020 at least three bids had come in. Vedanta Group, Apollo Global Management, and private equity major I Squared Capital-backed Think Gas were the buyers to show interest in the company.

The central government has a disinvestment target of Rs 65,000 crore for the current financial year 2022-23, according to Union Budget documents. For the financial year 2021-22, it had set a disinvestment target of Rs 1.75 lakh crore in the last year’s budget. Out of this only Rs 78,000 crore could be achieved, a reduction of 55.4 per cent.

In the previous year’s Budget Speech 2021, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said, “We have kept four areas that are strategic where bare minimum CPSEs [central public sector enterprises] will be maintained and rest privatised.”

In the first quarter of the current fiscal year, BPCL reported a net loss of Rs 6,291 crore on holding fuel prices despite a rise in cost. Net loss of Rs 6,290.8 crore in April-June compared with Rs 3,192.58 crore in the same period a year back. Revenue from operations rose to Rs 1.38 lakh crore from Rs 89,688.98 crore in April-June 2021. The company earned $27.51 on turning every barrel of crude oil into fuel in the quarter as against $4.12 per barrel gross refining margin a year back.

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