Ahead of the privatisation of Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL), parts of its shares are to be sold to employees with the employee stock purchase scheme (ESPS) rolled out on Monday, September 28. The management, however, takes it as an opportunity to gift shares to employees who favoured the privatisation of the company by the management.
According to the circular issued by the Executive Director (HR), employees who belong to the unions that approached courts against the privatisation of BPCL will not get shares. Prior to the privatisation drive, it was decided to give 2% of the 9.35% stake held by BPCL Trust to its employees. Through this, the management had reportedly aimed to quell the anger of employees over the privatisation drive. The employees and unions, however, are continuing their protests against the privatisation.
Following the intensified protests, the management has come up with a new strategy. The Annual General Meeting of Shareholders has been convened and approved the Employee Stock Purchase Plan for Employees. The circular has been issued after the annual meeting.
All employees who have completed at least five years of service as of September 28, 2020, are entitled for the shares of the company. The number of shares that can be purchased depends on the grade of the employee. The circular also mandates that those who have gone to court against the privatisation of the company and those who have been part of such moves as members of the unions are entitled to a share only if they step back from it all. It also stresses that they have to produce the evidence for the same within the stipulated date.
Also read: Over 4,800 BPCL Employees on 48-hour Strike Against Govt’s Privatisation Drive
Of the 4.34 crore shares that are being offered to the employees, the maximum number of shares an employee can buy is 9,000. The shares will be sold for one-third of the current price.
Meanwhile, the BPCL Workers' Association has lodged a complaint against the management’s decision to the company chairman and SEBI. The complaint states that the management is questioning the legal rights of unions and the employees to go to court.
Kochi Refinery Workers to Strike from November 2
The Cochin Refineries Workers’ Association of BPCL on Tuesday said that the workers will go on strike from November 2 to 7, against the privatisation of the state-run refiner.
“The decision of the government to privatise BPCL is not agreeable to the unions. We demand that the privatisation move of BPCL should be stopped immediately,” M G Aji, general secretary of the Cochin Refineries Workers’ Association, said through a notice issued on Tuesday.
The BJP-led central government has put out its 53.29% stake in BPCL through strategic disinvestment. While the Centre goes ahead with the privatisation drive, reports say that oil majors Rosneft and Saudi Aramco are unlikely to bid for BPCL.
Also read: Kochi: BPCL Union Rejects Management’s ‘Illegal Strike’ Allegation
Earlier in February this year, Russia's Rosneft had expressed interest in buying the entre’s share when CEO Igor Sechin visited New Delhi, while India's trade minister said that Aramco was keen to acquire the stakes.
The reports also say that “neither Rosneft nor Aramco see much value in refining because the government in the Indian state of Kerala, home to BPCL's biggest refinery, might challenge the privatisation in court and BPCL's two other refineries are in cities, leaving little scope for revamps and expansion”.
Latest in this, the central government on Wednesday extended the deadline for submission of initial bids for BPCL by one and half months. "In view of further requests received from the interested bidders (IBs) and the prevailing situation arising out of COVID-19 pandemic, the last date for submission of expressions of interest (EoIs) is further extended to November 16, 2020 (by 5.00 pm)," an official order said.