BPCL gets 3-4 bids; Reliance skips, no big players in race

‘Multiple’ expressions of interest received, tweets FM

The government on Monday received ‘multiple’ bids for buying out its stake in India’s second-biggest fuel retailer BPCL.

However, billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries as well as supermajors Saudi Aramco, BP and Total did not make a bid.

Tuhin Kanta Pandey, Secretary, Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM), which is handling the strategic sale, tweeted that the transaction advisers for the sale of government’s 52.98% in Bharat Petroleum Corp. Ltd. (BPCL) have reported receiving “multiple expressions of interest.”

“The transaction will move to the second stage after scrutiny by TA,” he said. TA stands for transaction advisor.

“Strategic disinvestment of BPCL progresses: Now moves to the second stage after multiple expressions of interest have been received,” Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman tweeted.

Neither of them, however, gave the number of bids received or the names of the bidders.

Separately, four industry officials said three to four bids have been put in.

Reliance Industries, which was considered a potential bidder as BPCL would have added 22% fuel market share to its fledgling retail business and made it the nation’s number one oil refiner.

However, it did not put in an expression of interest (EoI) at the close of the deadline on Monday.

Saudi Arabian Oil Company (Saudi Aramco), which had been keen to enter the world’s fastest-growing fuel market, too did not put in an EoI.

UK’s BP plc and Total of France – who have plans to foray into the Indian fuel market – had previously ruled themselves out of the BPCL race as they did not want to add oil refining assets when the world was moving away from liquid fuels.

A clutch of private equity funds and/or pension funds are said to have put in an EoI.

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