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Rediff News  All News  » Business » Govt sets ambitious divestment target for April-September

Govt sets ambitious divestment target for April-September

June 27, 2017 17:18 IST

The previous highest divestment proceeds for the first half of a year was around Rs 21,000 crore in 2016-17.

Image: Government is planning to offload 10 per cent stake in Steel Authority of India.

In a bid to come close to an ambitious divestment target of Rs 72,500 crore for 2017-18, the Narendra Modi government aims to top at least Rs 25,000 crore (Rs 250 billion) in stake sales for April-September, the highest-ever for the first half of any year.

For April-June so far, the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM), has already garnered around Rs 6,600 crore (Rs 66 billion).

This comes from selling part of the stake that the government holds in Larsen & Toubro (L&T) in Specified Undertaking of Unit Trust of India (SUUTI), a five per cent stake sale in Nalco, and share buyback by IndianOil.

This means that for July-September, the Centre wants to mop-up around Rs 18,400 crore (Rs 184 billion). The previous highest divestment proceeds for the first half of a year was around Rs 21,000 crore (Rs 210 billion) in 2016-17.

“In April-June, all the preparations have been put in place for stake sales, like issuing bids for appointing merchant bankers and legal advisors. Hence, in the second half onwards, you can expect a lot of action in terms of shares being offloaded in the exchanges,” said a senior government official.

For the entire year, the government is putting a strong pipeline of companies in place. It is planning to offload 10 per cent stake in NHPC, NTPC, Power Finance Corporation and Steel Authority of India, 15 per cent in NLC, five per cent in Rural Electrification Corporation and three per cent in IndianOil through offer-for-sale.

At least three of these could happen before October 1, Business Standard has learnt from sources aware of DIPAM’s plans.

There are also a number of initial public offerings being planned for state-owned rail, defence and insurance companies, including IRCTC, IRCON, IRFC, RVNL, Garden Reach Shipbuilders, Mazagaon Dock Shipbuilders, Bharat Dynamics, New India Assurance, General Insurance, National Insurance, Oriental Insurance and United India Insurance.

Of these, merchant bankers are already said to have been appointed for IRCTC, IRCON and IRFC.

Which means that these could be taken to the bourses within the next three months. Also, either one or both of New India Assurance and General Insurance could also make their market debuts soon.

The Centre also plans to launch a fourth tranche of its existing central public sector enterprise exchange traded fund (CPSE ETF), as well as announce a new CPSE ETF soon.

The existing ETF, managed by Reliance Mutual Fund, and has so far garnered Rs 11,500 crore (Rs 115 billion) for the exchequer in three tranches since March 2014.

Its fourth tranche is expected to be available for subscription by investors in July or August.

The Centre will also continue selling part of the stake it holds in Axis Bank, L&T, and ITC through SUUTI this year. Cash-rich public-sector undertakings (PSUs) are expected to continue buying back stake as well.

Out of the total FY2017-18 target of Rs 72,500 crore, Rs 46,500 crore is expected to come in from minority stake sales, buybacks, mergers, public listings and through the CPSE ETF route. Rs 15,000 crore (Rs 150 billion) is budgeted to come in from strategic sale in PSUs and in SUUTI.

The remaining Rs 11,000 crore (Rs 110 billion) is expected to come from the earlier-announced plans to list five state-owned general insurance companies.

Photograph: Anindito Mukherjee/Reuters

Arup Roychoudhury in New Delhi