Privatisation of the country’s second-largest oil refiner Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) may have been pushed back to the next fiscal year as no bidder visited the firm’s premises in the last quarter, a senior company official said on Wednesday.
The government is selling its entire 52.98 per cent stake in BPCL for which three expressions of interest (EoIs), including one from billionaire Anil Agarwal-led Vedanta Group, have been received.
Financial bids are yet to be called.
At a conference call with analysts, BPCL’s director (finance) V R K Gupta said the firm continues to update data for bidders in the fray for the government stake and is also replying to their queries.
During the third quarter (October-December 2021) “no major events happened in terms of bidder visits to our company premises and the status quo is same”, he said.
“We don’t have any significant role in the disinvestment process,” he said. “Whatever due diligence, data requirements are there, every quarter we update the data requirements in the portal, and bidders are continuously accessing the data.” BPCL, Mr Gupta said, is updating information on the data room and replying to queries raised by the bidders.
“We are continuously updating, and we are getting some queries and we are replying, that process is on,” he added.
His statement on no bidder visiting the company premises implied that either the three bidders have completed the physical due diligence or that they have taken a pause for now.
BPCL had in April 2021 opened a virtual data room, mostly containing financial information on the company, and qualified bidders signing confidentiality undertaking (CU) had been given access.
Bidders, which besides Vedanta include private equity firms Apollo Global and I Squared Capital’s arm Think Gas, were thereafter allowed physical inspection of assets such as refineries and depots as part of the due diligence process.
The government was to seek financial bids once bidders completed due diligence and the terms and conditions of the share purchase agreement (SPA) were negotiated.