Bengal accepts IOC bid for Haldia Petrochem stake

haldiaKOLKATA: The West Bengal government has said that the sole bid of state-owned Indian Oil Corporation for WBIDC’s 39.9 per cent stake in troubled Haldia Petrochemicals Ltd (HPL) has been accepted.

The company’s other shareholder Purnendu Chatterjee-led The Chatterjee Group (TCG), would be offered the right of first refusal (RoFR) for matching the IOC offer.

‘After a series of meetings of the Group of Ministers (GoM) on HPL, the government decided to accept the IOC bid for WBIDC’s stake in the petrochemicals firm,’ Industry Minister Partha Chatterjee told reporters here. ‘Consequently, The Chatterjee Group will be given a chance to exercise the right of first refusal,’ he said.

Although, he declined to divulge the bid price and the reserve price fixed by transactional adviser Deloitte, Chatterjee said that the Indian Oil Corporation offer was higher. He said the letter to The Chatterjee Group for exercising RoFR would be issued ‘as quickly as possible’.

Subsequently, TCG would have 30 days time either to accept or decline the offer. IOC emerged as the sole bidder for WBIDC’s 675 million shares in HPL although companies like Reliance, Cairn India, ONGC and GAIL had expressed their interest in the company.

Indian Oil Corporation’s petrochemicals group head S Mitra flew in from Delhi during the day at behest of the government. The PSU already holds 8.8 per cent in HPL. If TCG accepts the offer, it will have another 30 days to make the payment to the government. Otherwise, the government will have the option to offload the shares to Indian Oil Corporation.

Soon after the Trinamool Congress regime, under the leadership of Mamata Banerjee, came to power in West Bengal, the government decided to exit Haldia Petrochemicals Ltd. But it continued to provide the much-needed cash lifeline in a limited way to meet working capital requirements of the company.

Indian Oil Corporation’s entry into Haldia Petrochemicals Ltd during the Left Front government regime had irked TCG, which maintained that it was opposed to turning HPL into a government-run company.

To a query, Mitra said that they were still unaware of the reserve price. He said that if Indian Oil Corporation gets the government’s stake in Haldia Petrochemicals Ltd, then it would provide synergy in operations as the PSU has an oil refinery in Haldia.

He said big investments were not immediately required at Haldia Petrochemicals Ltd, but Indian Oil Corporation would explore the profitable product streams of the company. Indian Oil Corporation has been supplying naphtha to Haldia Petrochemicals Ltd since its inception.-PTI

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