In a move aimed at meeting its annual disinvestment target of $9 billion, the Indian government on Wednesday approved a stake sale in three state-run companies, according to media reports. The sale of the government's stake in these companies is expected to fetch a record $7.3 billion.
A high-level cabinet committee greenlighted a disinvestment plan, presented earlier by the Narendra Modi-led government, calling for a 10 percent stake sale in Coal India Ltd (NSE:COALINDIA), a 5 percent sale in Oil & Natural Gas Corporation Limited (NSE:ONGC), or ONGC, and a 11.3 percent sale in NHPC Limited (NSE:NHPC). All three companies belong to a special category of high-value state-owned units.
Based on the current market value, these stakes are worth $3.8 billion, $3.1 billion and $515 million, respectively, Indian business daily Business Standard reported. The combined asset sales, which will reportedly be carried out in a phased manner over the course of the current financial year, are expected to add nearly $7.3 billion to the government treasury.
The previous Congress-led government, helmed by Manmohan Singh, had approved the sale of a 5 percent stake in Steel Authority of India Limited (NSE:SAIL), or SAIL, which could raise another $280 million, according to media reports.
The topic of disinvestment has long been a political hot potato in India and it has met with resistance from labor and trade unions across the country. Successive governments, owing largely to policy flip-flops, have consistently failed to meet their disinvestment targets. In the previous financial year, the government could reportedly raise only $2.6 billion, compared to its target of $6.5 billion, through disinvestments.
Following the announcement Wednesday, shares of the three state-owned companies slipped 2 percent to 4 percent in Thursday trade on the National Stock Exchange.