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Revised date for buyout bids

Calcutta, Oct. 14: The government has extended the time limit for bids to buy controlling stakes in 10 state-owned enterprises. The Left Front regime put these companies on the block last month as part of its initiative to restructure the loss-making public sector enterprises.

“We are very satisfied with the response. Over 50 private parties have approached us to buy stakes in these companies,” said industries and commerce minister Nirupam Sen. “The government has set a target of March 2004 to complete the divestment exercise,” he added.

The short-listed companies —picked up from the first set of applicants — will be given a chance to conduct due-diligence before they submit their final bids early next year.

“Some big companies got in touch with us and said they would participate in the tendering process if given some more time. We are extending the deadline till October 20 to make it as competitive as possible,” added Sen. In the first phase, the last date for bids — expression of interest (EOI) in business parlance — was September 22.

Global consultancy and accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers is overseeing the state’s “joint venture transformation through induction of strategic partners”. The firm handed over to the government on September 24 the expressions of interest received in the first phase .

But there are few takers for the explanation behind the new deadline. The number of EOIs — in the absence of any specification of those who can bid — doesn’t have “much significance”, said a consultant.

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