Business Maverick

Business Maverick

India’s Biggest Privatisation Shelved for Now as Bidders Exit

A Bharat Petroleum Corp. refinery stands illuminated at night in the Mahul area of Mumbai.

India has stalled the privatisation of state-owned refiner Bharat Petroleum Corp. as most bidders walked out of the process, according to an official with direct knowledge of the matter.

There was only one potential buyer left in the fray for purchasing the government’s 53% holding in the company. India didn’t want to proceed with a single bidder, the official told reporters on Wednesday. The government will rework the sale but won’t sell a smaller stake, the official said.

The planned sale, which could have potentially been the country’s biggest privatization, had attracted interest from three suitors — the Vedanta group, Apollo Global Management Inc. and I Squared Capital Advisors. While Vedanta’s billionaire founder Anil Agarwal was willing to spend about $12 billion for acquiring BPCL, the others backed out amid oil price volatility and uncertainty over local fuel pricing.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government had announced the sale in 2019 as it sought to raise record funds by offering majority stakes in state-owned companies to boost a slowing economy. India will not rush into selling BPCL if it ends up with a lone suitor, the nation’s top bureaucrat overseeing asset sales had said in February.

BPCL shares closed 3.1% lower in Mumbai.


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