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With the Union government dropping plans to privatise state-owned Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL) for now, the firm has discontinued all activities associated with the disinvestment, it said in a stock exchange filing on June 8.

Announcing the decision, the firm cited the government's letter -- dated June 3, 2022 -- where it called off the present tender to sell its entire 53 per cent stake in the company.

"Accordingly, all the activities in connection with the disinvestment including the data room are being discontinued," BPCL's said in its stock exchange filing.

The central government took the decision to call off the expression of interest (EoI) after two out of the three bidders walked out.

Earlier in April 2021, the PSU opened a virtual data room for the qualified bidders signing Confidentiality Undertaking (CU). Apart from this, the firm had also a 'Clean Data Room' containing commercially sensitive information on the firm subject to their signing of an additional confidentiality agreement for bidders.

The BPCL allowed bidders Vedanta, Apollo Global and I Squared Capital's arm Think Gas for physical inspection of assets including refineries and depots as part of the due diligence process.

However, no bidder had visited the firm's premises in the previous quarter (October-December 2021), it confirmed in its earnings call with investors on February 2, 2022. The data room access for due diligence was available for a period of around 8 weeks.

Later, the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) called off the bid process stating that multiple pandemic waves and geopolitical situations impacted sectors around the world, especially the oil and gas industry.

"Owing to prevailing conditions in the global energy markets, the majority of QIPs (qualified interested parties) have expressed their inability to continue in the current process of disinvestment of BPCL," it had said last month.

On may 26 this year, a group of ministers on disinvestment even agreed to half the current EoI process and initial bids received from QIPs be cancelled.

According to details, the government was planning to sell its 52.98 per cent stake in BPCL as part of the 1.75 lakh crore disinvestment target for 2021-22 (April 2021 to March 2022). However, the sale process got slowed down due to the COVID-19 outbreak and was pushed into 2022-23 before it was put off.

Earlier, the BSE-listed Vedanta and its London-based parent Vedanta Resources Plc had floated a special purpose vehicle and submitted an expression of interest (EoI) for buying the government stake in BPCL before the close of the deadline on November 16, 2020. Now, these two private equity firms withdrew.

Following the divestment, BPCL would have given the buyer ownership of around 15.33 per cent of India's oil refining capacity and 22 per cent of the fuel marketing share. Also, the buyer would have got a 12 million tonne a year refinery in Mumbai, a 15.5 million tonne Kochi refinery and a 7.8 million tonne Bina unit.

Currently, BPCL also owns 20,088 petrol pumps, 6,220 LPG distributor agencies and 60 out of 270 aviation fuel stations in the country

With inputs from PTI.

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