BPCL Not Averse To Merging KRL

Kolkata, Aug 30: | Updated: Aug 31 2002, 05:30am hrs
The government-owned Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL), which is now in the disinvestment list, is not averse to merging its subsidiary Kochin Refineries Ltd (KRL) with itself.

BPCL is also planning to set up 159 new outlets all over the country this fiscal involving Rs 175 crore investment, and 101 outlets in the eastern region in the next 12 months. However, things will depend upon the verdict of the Supreme Court on the distribution of outlets.

Talking to the reporters after formally launching Speed, a new generation high performance petrol in Kolkata on Friday, BPCLs director for human resources SA Narayan said: We are not averse to taking over KRL. KRL employees are keen for its merger with BPCL, Mr Narayan pointed out.

At present, BPCL has 55.04 per cent stake in 7.5 million tonne capacity KRL, while banks and financial institutions have 23.69 per cent, Kerala government 10 per cent and the rest public. In March 2001, BPCL purchased KRL shares at a price of Rs 83 per share.

Although Mr Narayan declined to divulge any further details on the merger, sources said BPCL has already placed the merger proposal before the government.

He said the company has taken up a plan to export lubricants to African, Middle East and South-East Asian countries. Asked whether it would go for joint ventures for marketing products as Indian Oil Corporation is doing in Sri Lanka, he said, We will decide accordingly. In Middle East countries, for example, we need to have a local partner as per their laws.

He said the feasibility report on the 9mt Allahabad refinery is under preparation. BPCL may look for a joint venture partner for the refinery.

Mr Narayan said BPCL has put a voluntary retirement scheme to the government for approval. The purpose of the VRS would be to rationalise the 12,600 strong manpower. There are areas where we have excess manpower, while in others we have shortage. Hence, we dont have any specific target of pruning manpower, he explained. He said the companys present thrust is retail business expansion, which constitutes 65 per cent of its total turnover of over Rs 22,000 crore reported for the 2001-02 fiscal. He said most of BPCLs new outlets will be along the Golden Quadilateral.