ONGC disinvestment unlikely this fiscal


The disinvestment of 5 percent stake in state-run ONGC appears unlikely this fiscal as the liquidity situation in the market is under stress after recent mega share sales while the subsidy issue remains unresolved.

“The CIL disinvestment and HDFC Bank fund-raising have sucked out liquidity from the market. There is unlikely that the market, especially FIIs, would have appetite remaining after these two big-ticket share sales,” a source said.

The government on January 30 sold ten per cent stake in Coal India through an offer for sale and raised Rs 22,558 crore, close to one-third of which came from FIIs. While overseas investors put in about Rs 6,000 crore, retail investors pumped in close to Rs 2,000 crore in the issue.

This was followed by HDFC Bank offering on February 5. The leading private sector bank raised Rs 10,000 crore from a mix of American Depository Receipts (ADRs) and Qualified Institutional Placement (QIP).

“There were plans for two big ticket disinvestments this fiscal. We could pull one through. The other looks difficult,” the source added.

The government was to sell 5 per cent of its stake in ONGC, the country’s biggest oil and gas refiner, to raise Rs 17,000-18,000 crore. However, the double impact of tumbling global oil prices and the rising subsidy burden has left shares of ONGC battered.

ONGC’s share price has slipped from its 52-week high of Rs 472 in June 2014 to Rs 350.95, a drop of over 25 per cent. At current prices, the government will get about Rs 15,000 crore from the stake sale.

The ONGC stock has also been impacted because of lingering subsidy burden. The company, as per the present formula, has to shell out USD 56 per barrel to help subsidise LPG and kerosene. However, with international oil prices slumping to less than USD 50 per barrel, its present net realisation is in the negative.

Elaborating further, the source said foreign investors have bet heavily in HDFC Bank fund raising, leaving not enough depth and liquidity in the market.

While slumping global oil prices make prospects of a stake sale in ONGC grimmer, the government has lined up five other state-run firms – Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), Bharat Heavy Electricals (BHEL), National Aluminium (Nalco), and Dredging Corporation (DCIL) – for disinvestment in FY’15.

The government plans to sell a 10 percent stake in IOC, NMDC as well as Nalco, and 5 per cent stake each in BHEL and DCIL.

In March 2012, the government raised Rs 12,767 crore through auctioning of shares in oil major ONGC and state-run LIC had subscribed to a huge chunk of the issue.

LIC had picked up over 84 per cent of the shares on offer. The balance was bought by institutional and retail investors.