No controlling stake in Gujarat gas pipeline grid

Vol 6, PW 17 (23 Oct 02) Midstream & Downstream

COMPANIES LIKE SHELL, GAIL, British Gas and Gaz de France who want a controlling interest in Gujarat State Petronet's gas pipeline grid should rethink their plans.

State-owned Gujarat Petroleum, GSPL's parent, is unwilling to let any single investor have a controlling interest in the grid. It wants to retain a controlling interest with itself.

Gujarat Petroleum is clear: No single potential stakeholder will get more than 11% in GSPL even though up to 49% equity is up for disinvestment. "Shell and GAIL each want 26% stake and so did BG," a source tells this report.

"But the government is not willing to give a controlling stake to anybody at this stage." Talks between Gujarat Petroleum, Shell and GAIL are deadlocked over numbers. BG by contrast has lost interest.

"The maximum each investor can expect is 11%." In India a 26% stake allows you to veto decisions of the board. Interestingly, Gaz de France earlier broke off talks with GSPL over the grid but is back in the race.

"About a month back they came and collected data about the project." What about GSPL's other suitors "Bharat Petroleum has told us they are willing to take 11% but they are waiting and watching what big brother Indian Oil will do. Indian Oil tell us they are waiting for instructions from the (oil) ministry." Gujarat Petroleum finds this rather curious because post-deregulation Indian Oil does not need to take Shastri Bhawan approval for investments of up to a certain financial limit.

"Maybe Indian Oil is using Shastri Bhawan as a cover to wait and watch the progress of talks with the others."

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