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Centre likely to extend bidding deadline for BPCL privatisation

Thursday, 23 Jul 2020
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The Central government is likely to extend the deadline for bidding for privatisation of the Bharat Petroleum Corporation (BPCL) for the third time in a row, from the current date of 31 July 2020.

The extension of the timelines for expression of interest (EoI) may well be until international airline services are back in place, as a lot of prospective bidders have expressed concerns regarding the current situation.

The Cabinet had approved the sale of government's entire 52.98 percent stake in BPCL in November 2019. Offers seeking EoI, or bids showing interest in buying its stake, were invited only on 7 March 2020.

Initially, the EoI submission deadline was 2 May 2020, but on 31 March 2020 it was extended up to 13 June 2020 and then to 31 July 2020.

The government's plan is to sell its entire shareholding in BPCL comprising 114.91 crore equity shares, with transfer of management control to a strategic buyer, excluding the company's 61.65 percent in Numaligarh Refinery in Assam.

The company's stakes in Numaligarh refinery are expected to be sold to another public sector undertaking. So far, a consortium of state-run Oil India (OIL) and Engineers India (EIL) has shown interest in taking up BPCL's 48 percent stake in Numaligarh. The remaining stake will be sold to the government of Assam, to increase the state's share to 26 percent in the venture.

The bidding for BPCL includes two stages -- participation of qualified bidders in the EOI stage and financial bids. Any private company having a networth of over USD 10 billion will be eligible for bidding, or a consortium of not more than four firms will be allowed to participate. However, state-run companies are not allowed to participate in the process.

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