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IOC back in Haldia spotlight

Calcutta, July 6: With Purnendu Chatterjee sitting on his payments, the Bengal government has directed Haldia Petrochemicals to encash Indian Oil’s Rs 150-crore cheque and issue shares against it.

“We have asked the HPL board to encash the cheque and issue shares against it. The cheque is with HPL since February 18,” state commerce and industries minister Nirupam Sen told The Telegraph.

He expressed his dissatisfaction over the unnecessary delay. “HPL chairman Tarun Das had invited Indian Oil. The HPL board had approved the proposal. It is not clear to us why the shares are not being issued to IOC,” Sen said.

Indian Oil is supposed to get a 7.5 per cent stake. The navratna PSU has already issued legal notices to HPL regarding the non-issuance of shares. Haldia Petrochemicals has not replied yet.

Purnendu Chatterjee, one of the principal promoters of HPL, is against the idea of bringing in IOC as a strategic investor. There is a general apprehension within the TCG group that Indian Oil may buy out the government’s stake in HPL and emerge as the majority shareholder.

“If he does not allow IOC’s entry, he should bring in the required funds for buying out the state government’s stake,” Sen added.

The government is unfazed by the recent development on the Basell deal. Purnendu is no more a consortium partner in the $5.7 billion Basell deal.

Access Industries, owned by Russian-born oil billionaire Leonard Blavatnik, is buying out Basell on its own.

“Whether Purnendu buys out Basell is not a matter of concern to the Bengal government. He may buy as many companies he wants to. But HPL will not be allowed to invest in Basell as long as Bengal remains a principal promoter,” Sen added.

The minister also made it clear that Purnendu will have to bring in Rs 1560 crore in one go to acquire the government’s stake in HPL. He has already missed the deadlines set by the government. The fresh deadline is July 31.

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