BPCL divestment to be profitable just like Air India’s privatisation: Petroleum Minister Hardeep Singh Puri

The Indian government had ambitious strategies to auction its entire 53% stake in BPCL to private players in 2021-22, but holdups have moved this mark to 2022-23.

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Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas Hardeep Singh Puri expects to imitate the success of Air India divestment in the much-delayed sale of the state run-oil marketing firm Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL), the minister told in an exclusive conversation to CNBC-TV18.

The Indian government had ambitious strategies to auction its entire 53% stake in BPCL to private players in 2021-22, but holdups have moved this mark to 2022-23. Potential buyers who demonstrated interest are Anil Agarwal-led Vedanta Group, Apollo Global Management and private equity major I Squared Capital-backed Think Gas– are yet to find supporters to fund the deal.

“BPCL is a first-grade investment and it is looking better by the day. Give me a few months,” Puri said in a response to a question on divestment of the company to CNBC-TV18. Puri, who was previously the minister of civil aviation, said that he was optimistic that like Air India, BPCL will be successfully divested.

Puri said that the EOI (expression of interest) arriving now or later is not the problem government will privatize BPCL. He further asserted that it will be a transaction like Air India, which everyone will applaud as a very good segment of the authorities privatization program.

Puri further said, “I’m very proud of the fact that I had an association with that privatization process. It started after two failed attempts when I became civil aviation minister in 2019. And it was completed just a few weeks or a month after I handed over (the ministry).”

However, it was on January 27, the Tata Group finalized the takeover of Air India, along with Air India Express and a stake in AI-SATS. The government had invited proposals for a 100% stake in the national carrier in March 2020 and the Tata Group appeared as the winner in the proposals in October 2021.