The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sterlite, 2 others bid for HEC
- Papers referred to panel for scrutiny

Ranchi, July 16: Three bidders have submitted offers to take over the ailing Heavy Engineering Corporation as the 30-day deadline set by the Industrial Development Bank of India closed on July 4.

Sources said among those who had expressed their interest included Sterlite Industries of Anil Agarwal and the HEC Officers’ Association. The name of the third bidder is being kept secret.

A desperate bid to stall the sale of HEC has proved abortive after the Union finance ministry rejected a suggestion from the heavy industries ministry to work out a “suitable financial package” for the engineering company.

Officials said the finance ministry, while rejecting funding for the ailing corporation, refused to grant preferential treatment to HEC in securing work orders.

The sources said all three sets of bid documents received by IDBI have now been referred to a standing committee, set up for technical and commercial scrutiny.

“Scrutiny of the tender bids would be divided into two parts — a thorough evaluation of the capability of the bidders vis-a-vis their organisational and financial strengths on the basis of proof submitted by them along with their bids, on the one hand, and the financial aspect and reliefs and concessions sought,” a source revealed.

According to extant instructions, once the preliminary scrutiny was completed, all the bid papers would have to be referred to the Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction (BIFR) for concurrence.

In addition, the bid documents will be required to be vetted by financial institutions, including IDBI, the operating agency for HEC, and the State Bank of India, lead financiers of the corporation.

The sources said they expected it to take between one and three months before a final choice could be made.

In May, following non-receipt of any viable revival package from either the Centre or the Jharkhand government despite numerous reminders, BIFR had ordered IDBI to put HEC up for sale. The board had also directed IDBI to effect an immediate change in the HEC management.

Acting on BIFR orders, on June 2, IDBI put out public notices, asking interested buyers to offer bids for takeover/lease/merger or outright purchase of HEC within 30 days of the date of the notice. The notice was published in newspapers on June 5.

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