Govt cold to bankers views on discount in NMDC sale

Written by Subhash Narayan | New Delhi | Updated: Dec 3 2012, 08:15am hrs
Hopes good market positioning of co will attract interest

For the upcoming disinvestment of the state-run NMDC, the government is likely to keep the sale price of its shares in the company closer to the prevailing market price to maximise earnings. The plan is to disinvest 10% equity in the mineral explorer.

This is despite the fact that bankers handling the sale favour offering the shares at an attractive discount from the market prices. The issue, expected to be carried under the offer- for- sale or the auction route, could fetch the government close to R7,000 crore. It may be opened in the second half of this month. Sources said bankers preferred a discounted price, as was done in the issue of Hindustan Copper, to get wider participation from global investors.

The government, on the other hand, is set to go with the NMDC management that is confident that the good market positioning of the company should, in fact, fetch its shares a premium, let alone at discounted price. In the HCL issue, the floor price of shares was fixed at a discount of 40% over the market price.

Already, the share sale programme for PSUs Nalco and RINL has been postponed indefinitely over valuation differences. The steel ministrys strong opposition to lower valuations has also delayed the SAIL disinvestment plan.

Shares of NMDC would not priced be at a discount. It is a professionally-run company that has the lowest operating cost of iron ore in the world at $15.5 per tonne. Its Ebitda is $ 63 per tonne of ore and it has a reserve of 1.2 billion tonne of good quality ore.

We are profitable and paying high dividend regularly, said SAIL chairman CS Verma, who also holds charge as the head of NMDC.

Shares of NMDC closed at R162.65 per share at the BSE on Friday, up 1.88% over the previous close. It has come down from highs of over R200 a share in February 2012 and R187 in early November.

As a small window is available between now and March, the government wants to maximise benefits from a lower number of issues and is, therefore, putting share sale plans of its prized companies on the floor and is not willing get lower valuations.