The Centre will likely garner Rs 2,640 crore as the board of ONGC on Thursday approved buyback of its 25.29 crore shares, or 1.97% of its paid-up equity, at a price of Rs 159 apiece.
In total, state-run explorer will spend Rs 4,022 crore to undertake the buyback exercise, it said in a stock market filing. The proceeds to the government may go up in case other shareholders do not participate. The government holds 65.64% in the upstream oil major.
The record date for the transaction is January 4, 2019. The ONGC stock closed flat at `148.65 on BSE on Thursday.
ONGC’s announcement follows a buyback decision by Indian Oil to buy back 29.76 crore, or 3.06%, of its equity shares at `149 apiece spending a total of `4,435 crore. Indian Oil also announced an interim dividend of `6,556 crore to shareholders. ONGC, however, is unlikely to pay interim dividend as it hardly has any surplus cash following two major buys last year.
HPCL and GSPC’s Deen Dayal West gas field were the major acquisitions of ONGC last fiscal. In November, Oil India announced a buyback of 5.04 crore of its share for a little over `1,085 crore.
The government has been pressuring cash-rich companies to buy back shares or pay higher dividend in order to meet its disinvestment target of `80,000 crore in FY19. As of now the government has collected `34,000 crore, of which 77% has come from exchange-traded funds.
As reported by FE earlier, after struggling in the first half of the financial year, the government is likely to disinvest `65,000 crore by the end of January.
While about `15,000 crore is assured from the proposed Power Finance Corporation’s purchase of the Centre’s 52.63% stake in Rural Electrification Corporation, share buybacks will fetch a minimum of `12,000 crore which can go up to `20,000 crore in case other shareholders do not participate. Apart from ONGC and Indian Oil, other PSUs to go buyback include Oil India, NLC, Cochin Shipyard, BHEL and Coal India.
Another `5,000 crore is expected from relatively smaller deals such as sale of Centre’s entire stake in Pawan Hans (worth about `1,000 crore) and Dredging Corporation of India (up to `1,000 crore); listing of North Eastern Electric Power Corporation (which may fetch about `1,300 crore) and MSTC; and couple of offers for sale (OFS) may also go through before January-end.
Achieving the FY19 target, which the Centre has said it would, this year would be a major feat for the government aiming to contain fiscal deficit at the budgeted level of 3.3% for FY19. Last year, the Centre’s disinvestment receipt was a record `1 lakh crore including `36,915 crore from sale of its 51% stake in HPCL to ONGC.