Govt expects global oil majors will join race for $6.5-bn BPCL sale

A Bharat Petroleum oil pump station displays the price of unleaded petrol and Diesel as a pedestrian walks past in New Delhi, India | File Photo: Reuters
India expects global oil majors to team up with investment funds that are already in the race for the nation’s biggest asset sale -- state-owned refiner Bharat Petroleum Corp.

“When the price bidding comes up, I am hopeful some of the major players will come through this fund route,” Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said in an interview with Bloomberg Television on Thursday. Billionaire Anil Agarwal’s Vedanta group has confirmed it submitted an initial bid for Bharat Petroleum, while newspaper reports have said two U.S. funds -- Apollo Global and I Squared Capital -- have also shown interest.

An official said in February Last year that several top oil producers from the Middle East and Russia’s Rosneft PJSC had shown interest in buying India’s third-biggest refiner and second-largest fuel retailer, lured by the South Asian nation’s oil consumption growth. But they stayed away from submitting initial bids that closed on Nov. 16 after several months of delay.

The planned $6.5 billion sale of the government’s 53% stake in the refiner will be India’s first big-ticket transaction in over a decade. It is crucial for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government as it seeks to boost spending to help Asia’s third-biggest economy shake-off the pandemic-fueled downturn.

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