The Indian government is considering selling 20-25% of Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd. Official sources said the initial plan was to sell the whole firm (52.98% holding) but there were no suitors for such a deal.
The centre is thinking about inviting bids for up to a quarter of BPCL. The discussions are in the early stages, reported Reuters. Even a part sale is unlikely to be completed in this financial year because the process will take over 12 months.
Anonymous officials told Reuters the sale prospects of BPCL are affected by inconsistent policies regarding fuel prices. India has not raised petrol prices between November 2021 and February 2022. "This may be due to elections".
Selling the state-run refiner is part of the government's divestment programme. It is moving slower than previously anticipated. The initial plan was to sell the government's full stake in BPCL for $8-$10 billion. Bids were invited in 2020 in the hopes that big players may be interested. However, Russia's Rosneft and Saudi Arabia's Saudi Aramco did not bid due to low oil prices.
All bidders withdrew from the process last month. Private equity firm Apollo Global Management and oil-to-metals conglomerate Vedanta Group were the last to quit. After this, the current discussions of selling 20-25% of BPCL began.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced plans to privatise several state-run entities including banks and mining companies. But the progress has been slow.