SC notice to West Bengal, others over Haldia divestment

Written by Indu Bhan | Indu Bhan | New Delhi | Updated: Jul 19 2013, 11:24am hrs
Purnendu Chatterjee-led The Chatterjee Group has moved the Supreme Court to stop the West Bengal government from divesting its stake in Haldia Petrochemicals (HPL). It has also challenged the Calcutta High Court judgment that restrained its group firm Chatterjee Petrochem (Mauritius) Company (CPMC) from approaching the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), Paris, to resolve dispute over the HPLs ownership.

The Arbitration Reference filed by TCG is for the claim of 360 million shares of HPL, which includes the 155 million shares in dispute. A decision in TCGs favour will ensure that CPMC has a majority stake, at least 51% in HPL.

A bench headed by justice GS Singhvi has issued notice to West Bengal government, the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation and HPL on two petitions filed by Chatterjee Petrochem (India) and CPMC seeking to restrain WBIDC from inviting bids from third parties for 155 million shares, covered by the ICC Reference, which allegedly is in contravention of all the agreements with TCG. The matter is likely to come up for hearing on Tuesday. The HC in June had given liberty to WBIDC and HPL to invite bids but restrained them from transferring the shares without its permission.

Sources said that six companies, Reliance Industries, ONGC, Indian Oil Corporation, GAIL, Essar and Cairn have evinced interest in acquiring 31% in HPL, portion of the stake that the West Bengal government holds.

Seeking stay on the divestment process, TCG, a key shareholder of HPL, apprehended that there was an imminent risk of shares of HPL being transferred and alienated in favour of outsiders which is the subject matter of its claim pending adjudication before the ICC.