With a view to unlocking value and aiding the Central exchequer, the government has asked state-run oil explorer ONGC to list its overseas arm ONGC Videsh (OVL) on the Indian stock exchanges, sources told FE.
The direction has been communicated by the department of investment and public asset management (DIPAM) under the ministry of finance through a letter.
ONGC, through its overseas arm OVL, has stake in 41 oil and gas projects under various stages of development across 20 countries including Brazil, Colombia, Iran, Iraq, Mozambique, New Zealand, Russia, Venezuela and Vietnam. Since its inception, OVL spent around `1.06 lakh crore in acquiring assets till the end of 2016-17, as per its latest annual report.
While OVL has been a high-turnover but comparatively less-profit company, it was in the red in FY16. However, the company recovered and reported a net profit of Rs 701 crore on a turnover of `1,761 crore in FY17, mostly because of returns from its investment in Russia’s Vankor fields.
The direction is in sync with the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) which stipulates that public enterprises having a positive net worth and without any accumulated loss should be listed on stock exchanges so that the government can fetch its true value.
However, the issue of listing OVL on Indian bourses had cropped up earlier, too, without any success.
According to a source, the listing may not happen this time as well.
An email sent to ONGC seeking clarification remained unanswered.
The communication comes at a time when the government is reportedly also thinking about listing the parent ONGC on an overseas stock exchange with a view to have better access to foreign capital and global reach, as reported by FE earlier.
The idea was discussed earlier this month during a meeting called by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to review developments in the energy and mining sectors. The meeting was attended by secretaries from various ministries apart from representatives from the NITI Aayog and the Prime Minister’s Office.
The proceeds from the listing — if it materialises within this financial year — of OVL are likely to generate dividend for the government which is struggling to meet its disinvestment target of `80,000 crore. So far this year, the government has raised only Rs 9,220 crore or less than 10% of the annual target. The poor disinvestment performance is partly because the government’s plan to sell Air India did not go through this year.
In the last financial year as well, ONGC helped the government achieve its disinvestment target by paying it around Rs 37,000 crore for the latter’s 51,1% stake in oil marketer HPCL.
DIPAM is currently organising roadshows in the US showcasing companies from the Indian energy sector including ONGC to attract investors for the government’s disinvestment programme.