Sale of govt stake in HZL, Balco gains momentum

Written by fe Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Feb 8 2014, 09:51am hrs
An inter-ministerial group has begun the process of valuation of Hindustan Zinc (HZL) and Balco as it wants to divest the government's residual stake in the companies before March end. "We are in the process of valuing the two companies. The IMG (inter-ministerial group) discussed the issuance of request for proposals (RFP) for valuation of HZL and Balco," a senior finance ministry official said.

The government holds 49% stake in Balco and 29.5% in HZL. "We are working very hard to make it happen before March end," disinvestment secretary Ravi Mathur told reporters.

The government had sold majority stakes in the two companies to the Vedanta group in the first half of the last decade.

London-listed Vedanta holds 51% stake in Balco and 64.92% stake in HZL. In January 2012, Vedanta had proposed to acquire the government's remaining stake in the two companies for about R17,275 crore and last year, its shareholders gave the nod to raise offers for acquiring the remaining government stake in HZL and Balco by up to 43% or up to R24,663 crore.

Vedanta has the option to mop up shares worth up to R21,636.56 crore for the remaining government stake in HZL and shares worth up to R3,026.14 crore in Balco.

Earlier this week, it was reported that Vedanta chairman Anil Agarwal met economic affairs secretary Arvind Mayaram and discussed the stake sale in the two companies. Agarwal later told reporters that he would bid for the companies if the price offered is lucrative.

Last month, the Cabinet cleared the stake sale in HZL through the auction route while a decision on Balco is yet to be taken. According to sources, the Cabinet could take up the residual sale in Balco next week.

The meeting comes at a time when the government is struggling to meet its disinvestment target. The government aims to collect R14,000 crore by selling its residual stakes in private companies and had targeted R40,000 crore through stake sale in PSU companies.

So far, the government has just raised about R3,000 crore through stake sale in public sector companies after it failed to sell its stake in Coal India due to opposition from the trade union.

Meanwhile, the government asked ONGC and Oil India to buy 10% stake in Indian Oil, as it was unable to garner interest among domestic and international investors. The timing of the stake sale in IOC is yet to be decided.