The government has decided to extend the deadline for bidding for the privatisation of Bharat Petroleum Corporation (BPCL) for the fourth time in a row from September 30 to November 16, following requests from interested parties citing the pandemic situation.
The Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) said in a notification that 'in view of requests from interested bidders and the prevailing situation arising out of Covid-19 pandemic, the last date for submission of Expression of Interests (EoIs) is further extended to 16th November 2020 (by 5.00 PM).' According to a source aware of the development, prospective bidders had indicated that it would be difficult for them to travel from respective countries, to do the physical due diligence during the time of Covid and to evaluate the assets.
The Cabinet had approved the sale of government's entire 52.98 per cent stake in BPCL in November last year. Offers seeking expression of interest (EoI), or bids showing interest in buying its stake, were invited only on March 7. Based on the current market cap of Rs 79503.11 crore, the value of 52.98 per cent stake in the company is expected to be around Rs 42,120.7 crore. Initially, the EoI submission deadline was May 2, but on March 31 it was extended up to June 13 and then to July 31. Later, it was extended to September 30. According to the notice inviting offer, the government's plan is to sell its entire shareholding in BPCL comprising of 1.15 billion equity shares, with the transfer of management control to a strategic buyer, excluding the company's 61.65 per cent in Numaligarh Refinery in Assam.
The company's stakes in Numaligarh refinery is expected to be sold to another public sector undertaking. So far, a consortium of state-run Oil India (OIL) and Engineers India (EIL) has shown interest in taking up BPCL's 48 per cent stake in Numaligarh. The remaining stake would be sold to the Government of Assam, to increase the state's share to 26 per cent in the venture. N Vijayagopal, director (finance) of BPCL said that the data room for Numaligarh stake sale is open and so far it has got interests from OIL and EIL. On the other hand, the company is also looking to buy the stake of Oman Oil Company in Bharat Oman Refineries (BORL).
The bidding for BPCL includes two stages, one participation of qualified bidders in the EOI stage and then financial bids. Any private company having a net worth of over $10 billion will be eligible for bidding, or a consortium of not more than four firms will be allowed to participate. However, state-run companies are not allowed to participate in the process.