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Govt to kick off divestment programme tomorrow

BS Reporter/New Delhi 22 Nov 12 | 12:41 AM

The government’s disinvestment programme for 2012-13 is finally set to kick off on Friday, with a four per cent stake sale in Hindustan Copper Ltd (HCL). The empowered group of ministers on disinvestment on Wednesday okayed the price for offer for sale (OFS) through stock exchanges.

The disinvestment department has lined up Oil India and NMDC for stake sale in December. These could be followed by NTPC, dilution of stake in which is expected to be approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) tomorrow.

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Disinvestment Secretary Mohammad Haleem Khan said after Wednesday’s meeting that Friday’s OFS of four per cent in HCL would be the first tranche of the 9.59 per cent stake sale approved by CCEA in September. He added the floor price would be declared after the trading hours tomorrow.

The HCL scrip fell 86 per cent on the Bombay Stock Exchange to close at Rs 239.20 on Wednesday.

“We don’t want to flood the market with extra liquidity, so we are diluting stake in two tranches," Khan said, adding that the NTPC stake sale, if cleared by CCEA tomorrow, could take place in January.

CCEA had approved the sale of 9.59 per cent of the government’s 99.59 per cent holding in HCL, through OFS on stock exchanges — the first after the controversial ONGC experience in March this year — in line with rules and regulations of the Securities and Exchange Board of India. HCL’s had a paid-up equity capital of Rs 462.61 crore as on March 31, 2012.

When CCEA considers the proposal for disinvestment in NTPC tomorrow, it is expected to clear the sale of 783.3 million shares (9.5 per cent), bringing down the government’s holding in the Maharatna company to 75 per cent from 84.5 per cent at present.

The government has already cleared a proposal to disinvest 10 per cent stake in defence equipment maker Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, Nalco and MMTC, along with a few more companies, in its bid to earn Rs 30,000 crore revenue from stake sale in the current financial year.

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