The Telegraph
Friday , June 20 , 2014
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PSU share norm to fatten govt purse

New Delhi, June 19: The government may reap a bonanza of at least Rs 70,000 crore from Sebi’s decision to force all listed PSUs to park at least 25 per cent of their stakes with the public.

At least 23 state companies that are part of the BSE PSU index will have to sell shares to comply with this rule.

Over the last three fiscals, 2011-12 to 2013-14, government receipts from selloffs have been considerably less than the target in the budget.

The government owns about 89.65 per cent in Coal India; 80 per cent in SAIL and NMDC; and 90 per cent in Hindustan Copper, Neyveli Lignite and MMTC. Among banks, the government owns 76.5 per cent in IDBI, 81.5 per cent in Indian Bank and 77.2 per cent in Uco Bank.

“The biggest chunk of money will come from selling Coal India shares. This could fetch the government nearly Rs 40,000 crore. However, the sale may not be done at one go. It is likely to be done in three to four tranches. Otherwise the market will be flooded with large share offerings,” officials said.

Officials in the disinvestment department said the government might have to ask Sebi for more time to comply with the rules if it felt that a cluster of selloffs could impact the market or the offering adversely. The officials said over the next three years the valuations of companies might go up as the economy and stock markets improved. Hence, actual realisations could be almost Rs 1 lakh crore.

The government was already planning selloffs in a few PSUs, which will now have to be hastened because of the Sebi fiat. The department of disinvestment had been working on plans to offer 5 per cent in SAIL to raise over 2,200 crore.

The government can mop up around Rs 3,500 crore if it lowers its stake in NMDC to 75 per cent. An NHPC selloff may fetch about Rs 3,000 crore; Neyveli Lignite can bring in another Rs 2,500 crore, while Rs 1,500 crore can be raised from offloading Hind Copper shares.

Officials said the Sebi rule would help to silence opposition to the sale of shares in PSUs, especially in banks.

The Congress party had earlier said it was against bringing down government shareholding in banks as it was against the spirit of nationalisation, which the party had initiated in the 1960s under then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

The Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, affiliated to the BJP, has also been against the divestment in PSUs. Last October, it had launched an agitation against all plans to sell shares in PSUs.