The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Mitsubishi, Abu Dhabi Oil eye HPL pie

Calcutta, Nov. 12: Mitsubishi Oil and Abu Dhabi National Oil Company have evinced interest in the Rs 5,170-crore Haldia Petrochemicals Limited (HPL).

Sources said both are naphtha producers who are looking at Bengal’s showpiece project as a potential buyer. “There are five to six companies, including some from India who are keen to become partners of Haldia Petrochem,” senior officials of the company said.

HPL chairman Tarun Das and Purnendu Chatterjee are believed to be in negotiations with the two firms, which are new additions to the list of Indian companies — Indian Oil Corporation, Oil and Natural Gas Corporation and Bharat Petroleum— eyeing a slice of the project.

A debt-restructuring proposal approved by Industrial Development Bank of India (IDBI) requires promoters of HPL to pump in Rs 500 crore by November 30, and another Rs 200 crore by February 28 next year. “Talks are under way with naphtha-producing companies for the Rs 200 crore that will have to be injected by February next year,” sources said.

Gail is ready to bring Rs 500 crore, of which Rs 200 crore will be paid up-front in return for 10 per cent in HPL. The remaining Rs 300 crore will be invested through a special purpose vehicle (SPV) to be jointly floated by Gail and The Chatterjee Group (TCG). Purnendu Chatterjee will hold a majority stake in it. HPL will issue preferential shares against Rs 300 crore.

“TCG and Gail are working on the SPV’s equity structure and a picture will emerge by November 30. In fact, Chatterjee had devised a marketing formula with Gail, which will be beneficial to HPL,” sources said.

A report by Gail, appointed by Ernst & Young to carry out a due diligence of HPL, was submitted last week. A final decision on investment in the project will be taken a board meeting of the public sector undertaking on November 21. “The offer has to come from Gail and will be evaluated by HPL promoters,” officials said.

HPL, having serviced its loans till December last year, has taken time from financial institutions and banks until November 30 to resolve Gail’s participation.

“We have informed banks and institutions about the progress in restructuring. But we have to clear the interest by the end of December. So, the entire exercise has to be completed within that time.

HPL’s revenues stood at Rs 220 crore in October, a figure it expects will increase to Rs 250 crore this month. A respite has been softer prices of naphtha, now selling at $ 23-24, down from $ 28 a few months back.

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