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Court stand paves way for HPL price bid

Calcutta, Aug. 16: The Supreme Court today refrained from staying the stake sale process in Haldia Petrochemicals Ltd (HPL) and set the stage for the Bengal government to call price bids by August 31.

The apex court said it would hear the HPL case in September and decide on merit but did not order any interim stay.

The Chatterjee Group, the private investor in HPL, had moved the Supreme Court, seeking a stay on an injunction passed by Calcutta High Court in a matter related to an arbitration on HPL in an overseas court.

A TCG firm had filed two special leave petitions before the apex court challenging the high court’s judgment that barred the TCG firm from going to the International Court of Arbitration in Paris to decide on HPL’s ownership dispute.

The case is being heard by Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice V. Gopala Gowda at the apex court.

“There is no legal bar on carrying out the sale process. We plan to seek the final price bid on August 31,” a state government official said.

Five companies, including three public sector units — Indian Oil Corporation, ONGC and GAIL (India) Ltd — and two private firms, Cairn India Ltd and Reliance Industries, are in the fray for the state government’s 48.29 per cent economic interest in HPL.

The stake includes 39.99 per cent of the equity capital of the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation (WBIDC) and another 8.3 per cent preference capital of the WBIDC and two more state-owned firms. The preference shares have equal voting rights as the equity shares.

Sources close to TCG said it would not be a smooth sale for the state government. They added that a case was coming up in the high court on August 19.

“Moreover, the state needs to take leave of the court before transferring the shares,” they said.

Even though RIL had suggested to the Bengal government to carry out an open auction with multiple bidding, the state government is likely to stick to the tender route.

 
 
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