The BJP-led Centre, which is gearing up for the privatisation of almost all the Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs), is in the final stage of selling off the Pawan Hans Limited (PHL) – the helicopter service provider of Government of India. The final share purchase agreement to the shortlisted bidders will be shared soon for the selling of PHL stakes that have been held by the central government and Oil and Natural Gas Limited (ONGC).
A meeting of the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, head of the Alternative Mechanism on strategic disinvestment, and Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu is scheduled to be called soon to get the clearance for the final Share Purchase Agreement (SPA).
“The final SPA is ready, we are waiting for the meeting of the Alternative Mechanism following which it would be based with bidders,” an official was quoted as saying.
At present, central government has 51 per cent stake and the state-run ONGC too holds 49 per cent stake in the PHL which has a fleet of 46 choppers. The centre aims to complete the strategic sale of PHL by the end of the current financial year.
On December 21, 2018, the draft SPA and Request for Proposal were circulated to the shortlisted bidders, and they were also given a four-week time for comments.
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In April last year, the centre had issued the information memorandum for the strategic sale of 51 per cent stake of PHL. Following this on June 18, the centre sought expression of interest from the bidders. Then the ONGC which holds 49 per cent stake decided to step into this sale process and offered their stakes for sale.
Again in August last year, the government had invited fresh bidders saying that stake that has been held by ONGC will also be availed for sale and September 12 was the last date for the submission of bids.
The disinvestment processes has gained momentum since August 16, 2017, when the Union Cabinet approved a new mechanism to speed up the strategic disinvestment in public assets such as Steel Authority of India Limited, Bharat Earth Movers Ltd, Scooter India and PHL. It was meant to sell a substantial stake of these PSUs along with the transfer of management control.
At present, as many as 35 CPSEs are being lined up for a strategic sale. Recently, NITI Aayog submitted its fifth list of CPSEs that can be put for strategic disinvestment. This fifth list took the total number of CPSEs identified for strategic disinvestment to 35.
The finance ministry, on the other hand, is planning to streamline the existing processes to cut down the time for sale. The Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) is determined to simply the sale process since more than one company could be taken up for the sell-off simultaneously including PHL.
The BJP-led Modi government, so far, has sold off public sector assets worth more than 2 lakh crore, which amounts 58 per cent of all the disinvestment done since 1991 when the Indian economy had been opened its doors for neo-liberal policies.
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