September 30th deadline for HPCL dataroom visits

Vol 7, PW 8 (02 Jul 03) People & Policy

VERY SOON companies interested in acquiring Hindustan Petroleum can book an appointment to visit the refiner's dataroom.

Weunderstand the disinvestment ministry has set HPCL a 'target date' of mid-July for its inauguration. HPCL began the data collection process for the dataroom in the middle of last month.

Alongside the data room, interested bidders can also visit HPCL's refineries in Mumbai and Vizag, as well as pipelines, LPG bottling plants and other facilities. If all goes to schedule, the due diligence exercise (visits to data room and HPCL facilities) could be over by 30th September.

Elsewhere, we learn that a meeting ofdisinvestment ministry officials on the 11th June discussed several key issues of concern raised by potential bidders. For instance, the controversial government condition requiring them to commit to investments worth Rs2,000cr ($416m) in the hydrocarbon sector.

No doubt to general relief, the disinvestment ministry has, it seems, already informed participants that they don't need to make any such threshold investment to qualify. Then, there is the issue of HPCL's equity stake in Mangalore Refineries - now taken over by ONGC.

We learn that the oil ministry is working out appropriate safeguards so that any new owner of HPCL will not be the target of a corporate takeover - a move that would give it an automatic stake in MRPL, which under its new owner ONGC has become a state-owned company. Also unclear to bidders is the status of HPCL's ongoing Bhatinda refinery project in Punjab.

In due course we understand that the disinvestment ministry will inform bidders of the government's decision on Bhatinda. "The inter ministerial group will discuss clauses (regarding the refinery) that should form part of the agreements." What about money owed to HPCL from the now defunct Oil Coordination Committee "These are being finalised and should be resolved this month." And the Petroleum Regulatory Board Bill "We plan to introduce it in parliament during the monsoon session (beginning in July)."

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