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Govt to identify more PSUs for selloff for next 2 years

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After the planned divestment in four more public sector enterprises this fiscal, the Centre will identify more candidates for public offers for the next two years.

The Government is also planning to change the criteria of appointing investment bankers so that only those advisors with deep-pockets do not qualify for this purpose, an official close to the development said.

The Government plans to divest stakes in NTPC in the last week of January or early February, followed by REC just before the Budget (likely on 26th February), NMDC by 10th March, and Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam by the end of March, which will together fetch around Rs 30,000 crore to the Exchequer.

"After we are through with these disinvestment plans, we will identify public sector enterprises where the Government could offload its stakes in the next two years," the official informed.

The Disinvestment Department has already asked 32 nodal ministries to identify state-run firms where the government stake could be sold, a senior official had said earlier.

As per the recently cleared criteria by the Cabinet, around 60 PSUs, including MMTC, BSNL, Neyveli Lignite Corp, Engineers India, State Trading Corp, Rashtriya Chemicals and Fertilisers, National Fertilisers and Andrew Yule, are eligible for stake sale.

Also, the Department will approach the Central Vigilance Commissioner to allow it to change the criteria of choosing investment bankers from just cost-basis to quality-cum-cost basis, the official said.

Currently, investment bankers are selected on the cost basis--the one qualifying the technical bid and quoting the lowest cost is selected as advisors, the official said.

The new criteria, if accepted, will assign weights to the track record of the investment bankers, including their experience, and match them with their costs, they added.

The Government has already appointed ICICI Securities, JP Morgan, Citi, and Kotak as investment bankers for the NTPC follow-on issue.

Six leading bankers--Kotak Mahindra, Citigroup, RBS Equities, UBS Securities, Morgan Stanley, and Edelweiss Capital are also learnt to have been shortlisted for managing the NMDC offer.

The Cabinet had earlier asked all listed profitable CPSUs to have public holding of at least 10 percent in them. It had also asked profitable unlisted PSUs to hit the capital markets. This makes around 60 PSUs eligible for disinvestment.

The listed CPSUs that are making profits and have public holding of under 10 percent include trading firm MMTC, mining major NMDC, Neyveli Lignite Corporation, Engineers India, State Trading Corporation, Rashtriya Chemicals and Fertilisers, National Fertilisers and Andrew Yule.

At present, the public holdings in these companies range from 0.67 percent in MMTC to about 9.6 percent in Engineers India.

This fiscal, the Government had already divested its stake in NHPC and Oil India.

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