Chatterjee: Bold step
Calcutta, May 13: The Chatterjee Group (TCG) today upped the ante in its battle for control of Haldia Petrochemicals Ltd by trying to throw the Bengal government’s stake sale process off the track.
Two TCG firms today came out with a newspaper advertisement warning potential investors of the “risk and peril” of bidding for the government’s shares in HPL.
In the afternoon, counsel for the firms filed an application in Calcutta High Court to stop the stake sale though it was dismissed by a division bench comprising Chief Justice Arun Mishra and justice Joymalya Bagchi.
Explaining the move, a TCG source said, “TCG welcomes the government decision to exit HPL. However, the document provided by it is opaque. We decided to inform (interested parties) what we consider to be the factual position through the ad. According to us, the top priority should be reviving the firm because stake sale will take a long time.”
The development comes in the wake of the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation (WBIDC) putting 67.5 crore shares of the company on the block last week.
In the advertisement, Chatterjee Petrochem (Mauritius) Co (CPMC) and Chatterjee Petrochem (India) Pvt Ltd claimed that 15.5 crore shares out of the block that the WBIDC intended to sale belonged to them. It also reserved the right on the remaining 52 crore shares of HPL claiming that the state had committed to transfer the shares to CPMC on valuation.
The firms claimed the 15.5 crore shares, the bone of contention between the state government and TCG, did not even feature in WBIDC’s balance sheet after they were transferred to TCG on March 8, 2002.
Bengal industries minister and HPL chairman Partha Chatterjee said the warning from TCG would not scupper the stake sale process. “Those who bid for government shares will do so knowing everything.”
He said TCG’s right has been protected by the right of first refusal. “What else does he (promoter Chatterjee) want?”
Government officials said the disputed 15.5-crore shares featured in the WBIDC’s balance sheet for 2011-12.