Disinvestment takes to skies: Pawan Hans IPO on the anvil?

By: | Published: August 9, 2017 3:51 PM

The government has now turned its gauge towards the state-run helicopter services provider Pawan Hans Ltd and is considering all options with regard to its disinvestment.

Pawan Hans, which now has a fleet of 46 helicopters, was established in 1985 to provide helicopter support services to the oil sector for off-shore exploration operations, services in remote and hilly areas and charter services for promotion of tourism. (Image: Reuters)

After being in a slow gear for a better part of the fiscal first quarter, the government’s ambitious disinvestment programme has recently taken off in a big way, what with the launch of an exchange-traded fund Bharat-22, putting four defence companies up for a stake sale, and General Insurance Corp filing for its IPO. And now, the plan seems to be ready to fly high — literally — with the government turning its gauge towards the state-run helicopter services provider Pawan Hans Ltd.

The government is considering all options with regard to the disinvestment of Pawan Hans, CNBC TV18 reported citing unidentified sources. The seriousness in the government’s intent to quickly move with the proposal can be gauged from the fact that it will submit the plan outlining the disinvestment process to the evaluation panel and will submit details on expression of interest to DIPAM (Department of Investment and Public Asset Management) — all in just one week, according to the news report.

Earlier last year, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs had approved disinvestment of the government’s stake in the state-controlled helicopter services provider. While the government owns 51% equity stake in Pawan Hans, another state-controlled giant, Oil and Natural Gas Corp, owns the remaining 49% in it.

Pawan Hans, which now has a fleet of 46 helicopters, was established in 1985 to provide helicopter support services to the oil sector for off-shore exploration operations, services in remote and hilly areas and charter services for promotion of tourism. Disinvestment of Pawan Hans was first proposed as early as in 1997, by the then Disinvestment Commission.

Indian government has undertaken strategic stake sale in profitable PSUs to help boost state revenue and bridge the fiscal deficit. It has an ambitious target to earn Rs 72,500 crore in the current financial year 2017-18 through sale of stake in state-run companies, of which it has raised Rs 9,300 crore so far, Arun Jaitley said. The government raised Rs 46,247 crore through disinvestment In the last financial year 2016-17, the highest ever amount earned by sale of equity stake in PSUs, though falling short of the original target, as was expected.

So far this financial year, the government has sold equity stakes in Hindustan Copper through a recently concluded OFS (offer for sale), Cochin Shipyard, HUDCO, L&T (held through SUUTI) and Dredging Corporation, among others. This fiscal, the government seeks to sell 10% equity stake each in three major state-run railway companies IRCTC, Ircon and IRFC via IPOs. The Union Cabinet has also approved listing of five state-run general insurance companies, which is likely to begin only in the next financial year with the first listing possible by September-October. The government is also reportedly looking at selling 10% equity stakes each in the capital goods major Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd and energy company Oil India Ltd.

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