Sail FPO likely to hit the markets around Diwali: steel min

Sail FPO likely to hit the markets around Diwali: steel min

New Delhi: The much-delayed share sale of state-run Sail, expected to mop up 6,000 crore at current market price, will take another three months and may take place around Diwali, steel minister Beni Prasad Verma said.

“We are now looking at the time around Diwali (third week of October) for Sail FPO. That is an auspicious time but it will depend up on market conditions," Verma, who has recently been elevated to Cabinet rank, told PTI.

He further said government is not willing to sell the shares of the Maharatna company at lower prices and in adverse market conditions, as selling at current prices would garner revenues of about 6,000 crore.

“Why do I sell (Sail shares) at lower prices? We will hit the market, when we are assured of getting good money. The finance ministry was earlier expecting 8,000 crore through the share sale but now it will fetch only about 6,000 crore as the markets are down," Verma said.

Shares of Steel Authority of India Ltd (Sail) have plunged over 30% since the beginning of this year, according to the data available on the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) website. The scrip of the company on Friday closed at 131 on the BSE.

“There is no pressure from the finance ministry. We want best returns for the government and the company both, and therefore, the issue will hit the market, when the market conditions improve," Verma said.

Through the share sale, the government will divest its 5% stake in Sail, while the company will issue fresh equity of the same proportion under the FPO.

The FPO of Sail, in which the government holds a little over 85%, has failed to meet deadlines repeatedly since December last year due to several reasons like rising coking coal prices and problems with merchant bankers, besides the adverse market conditions.

Higher coking coal prices had resulted in a 28% decline in net profit of Sail for the January-March quarter at 1,507.12 crore.

For the full year, its net profit declined 29% to 4,914.29 crore over the year ago period. The coking coal prices have had an adverse impact of 3,015 crore on the profits of the company for the year as a whole.

Government’s disinvestment target for the previous fiscal also got hit due to delay in share sale of Sail as it could only raise over 22,000 crore against the target of mopping up 40,000 crore through stake sale in state-owned firms.

Adverse market conditions have also played spoilsport for the government as so far it has managed to mop up only over 1,100 crore by selling its 5% equity in the Power Finance Corporation—the first follow-on public offer of a PSU in the current fiscal.

The government has been banking big on meeting its disinvestment target of 40,000 crore in the current fiscal, by selling equities of big PSUs like ONGC, Sail, Bhel, MMTC and Hindustan Copper.

Among them, share sale of Sail and ONGC, earlier expected to happen in first quarter of this fiscal, have failed to take off so far due to various reasons.

The government has also proposed an ambitious disinvestment target of 95,000 crore from sale of shares in public sector companies over next three fiscals, including 40,000 crore, in the current fiscal.

Besides, the budget documents projected the disinvestment receipts at 30,000 crore and 25,000 crore in 2012-13 and 2013-14, respectively.

In 2010-11, the government carried out disinvestment in SJVN Ltd (Rs 1062.74 crore), Engineers India Ltd (Rs 959.65 crore), Coal India (Rs 15,199.44 crore), PowerGrid (Rs 3721.17 crore), MOIL (Rs 1,237.51 crore) and SCI (Rs 582.45 crore).