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UK major keen to pick up govt stake in ICI

Calcutta, Oct. 9: Imperial Chemical Industries Plc — the UK-based paints and speciality chemicals major — has evinced interest in picking up the Indian government’s 9.2 per cent stake in its subsidiary, ICI India Ltd.

John Edgar, head of communications at Imperial Chemical Industries, said: “We have submitted the ‘expression of interest’ (EoI) to the Indian government, and will soon quote a price for its holding in our subsidiary.”

The UK-based paints major holds 50.83 per cent in ICI India at present. Institutional investors own 25.20 per cent of the company’s shares, while 14.77 per cent is widely held.

The government holds 37.6 lakh shares in the company, which at current market price (Rs 174.15) is valued at Rs 65.5 crore or £ 8.7 million roughly.

The deadline for filing of EoIs was Tuesday. The government is expected to invite price bids by the end of this month.

It is understood a number of institutional investors, besides Imperial Chemical Industries, have also evinced interest in taking over the government’s stake in ICI India.

The company is restructuring its operations to focus on paints and speciality chemicals. The company is looking to sell two divisions. It recently divested its stake in Indian Explosives Ltd — a joint venture.

The ICI India management says the move to streamline its operations is aimed at increasing shareholder value.

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