Aramco, Exxon Mobil may be approached for BPCL sale

The government will approach Exxon Mobil of US, BP Plc of UK, Total SA of France and Saudi Aramco as it plans to sell public sector oil major BPCL in before March 2020.

At its current prices, BPCL is expected to fetch close to Rs 63,000 crore to the exchequer as against the asset sale target of Rs 1.05 lakh crore in the current fiscal year (2019-20).

Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan Thursday indicated that no domestic PSU oil company will be bidding for BPCL.

“Since 2014, we have a clear vision that the government has no business to be in business," Pradhan said speaking about Wednesday's major cabinet decision on strategic disinvestment of public sector firms.

The Centre wants to divest its entire 53.3% stake in BPCL, a 'Fortune 500' firm, whose total asset is valued at Rs1.37 lakh crore and the state-owned Saudi Aramco appears to be the front runner.

If the government is able to pull off the stake sale, it will be short of only Rs 25,000 crore to reach this year's divestment target, which was revised upward by Rs 15,000 from the interim Budget's aim of Rs 90,000 crore.

Air India, which drew a blank last year after the government invited bids for its sale, is also on the radar but this time, the divestment department is holding roadshows abroad for its sale, hoping to get some foreign bidder.

This, however, seems highly unlikely for the debt-laden state-owned carrier, which has seldom looked attractive to bidders.

Though the government is sanguine about BPCL going into private hands within this fiscal, analysts said addressing environmental, regulatory and policy issues may take longer.

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