India moving ‘cautiously’ on BPCL’s privatisation: Pradhan

India is “treading very cautiously” in its plan to privatise state-run oil refiner Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd, Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said on Tuesday, in a sign that the process could be delayed.

New Delhi’s plan to sell its 53.29% stake in BPCL was first announced in November 2019, and is part of a broader programme to spin off or sell stakes in dozens of state-owned companies. India had planned to sell the stake by the end of the fiscal year to March 2021.

“Bharat Petroleum divestment is very much on the cards,” Pradhan told a virtual energy conference.

“But we all will appreciate looking into the net worth and looking into the size … the government is treading very cautiously (on) how to offload (the stake) through (a) proper process”.

Reuters last month reported that BPCL’s privatisation could spill over into the next fiscal year that begins in April 2021 and that Saudi Aramco and Russia’s Rosneft may not participate in the bid as low oil prices affect their investment plans.

BPCL’s shares have tumbled by about 38% from highs seen in November last year as fuel demand in India has been hit by restrictions imposed to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

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