State-run Power Finance Corporation (PFC) will borrow nearly Rs 14,000 crore to fund its acquisition of the Centre’s 52.63% stake in Rural Electrification Corporation (REC) by February 15, before the government goes in the election mode
State-run Power Finance Corporation (PFC) will borrow nearly Rs 14,000 crore to fund its acquisition of the Centre’s 52.63% stake in Rural Electrification Corporation (REC) by February 15, before the government goes in the election mode, a senior official told FE.
On December 7, the Cabinet had given the ‘in-principle’ approval for strategic sale of the Centre’s stake in REC to PFC. Usually, such transactions take six months to conclude. However, the Centre does not have that much time as general polls are due in April-May.
The deal, similar to ONGC’s purchase of the government’s stake in Hindustan Petroleum Corporation (HPCL) last year, would be crucial for the Centre to meet this year’s ambitious disinvestment target of Rs 80,000 crore. With little surplus cash, PFC would likely raise funds from overseas market for the acquisition.
PFC’s surplus cash has depleted to Rs 553 crore by the end of FY18 from Rs 3,573 crore at end-FY17 as it has paid handsome dividends and issued bonus shares in the ratio of 1:1, in accordance with the government’s capital management rules to give optimum reward to shareholders.
For the sale of the Centre’s HPCL stake to ONGC last year, reference valuation was at 14% premium, which fetched the Centre a whopping Rs 36,915 crore. The upstream oil firm financed the deal with market borrowing of Rs 25,000 crore.
Though the details of the deal, including the pricing methodology are to be worked by a ministerial panel, the transaction, according to sources, is expected to fetch the Centre about `14,000 crore at a hefty premium of over 30% over REC’s market price on December 7. Since the Cabinet decision, the share price of REC has climbed up and the Centre’s stake in REC is worth about `13,330 crore at current market prices.
So far this year, the Centre has mopped up `34,142 crore or 43% of the annual disinvestment target. With already tied-up deals such as PFC-REC deal, buybacks and a few small PSU-to-PSU deals, etc, the government is confident that the FY19 disinvestment revenue target would be met.