Singapore / New Delhi: India will decide on a share sale of the country’s largest refiner Indian Oil Corp. (IOC) within three to four months, the company’s chairman said on Friday, a delay of a few months from earlier expectations.
The sales will be part of a government plan to sell stakes in about 60 state-run firms including IOC and explorer Oil and Natural Gas Corp, as India moves to cut a stubbornly high fiscal deficit and garner funds to spend on schemes for the poor.
The government expects to raise about $8.6 billion in the current fiscal year that ends next March through such sales.
The “government has decided this is not the right time to divest,” chairman B M Bansal said, referring to rising global crude oil prices and its adverse impact on the firm’s revenue.
IOC, also the country’s biggest fuel retailer, along with other state-run fuel retailers sell diesel, cooking gas and kerosene at state-set cheaper rates as New Delhi seeks to protect the poor and tame inflation.
Brent crude steadied above $98 on Friday after this week approaching triple-digit figures for the first time in more than two years.
Bansal last month had said IOC share may happen in January.
Indian Oil has hired six banks including Bank of America-Merrill Lynch , Citigroup and ICICI Securities to handle the share sale.
The government plans to sell a 10% stake in IOC, while the company will offer an equal number of new shares. It also aims to sell 5% stake in ONGC.
Oil secretary S Sundareshan said the government may raise $3 billion to $4 billion through the share sale in ONGC which is expected to be completed by end-March.
“In the case of IOC, it will be totally about $5-$6 billion, of which 50% will be the government’s divestment and 50% from IOC’s fresh issue,” he said.