BPCL stake sale gets `multiple bids' but fails to attract big fish

The government’s offer to sell its entire stake in Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL), India's second-biggest fuel retailer, has  received 'multiple' bids, but failed to attract major groups like Reliance Idustries Ltd, Saudi Aramco, BP and Total, official sources said on Monday.

The transaction advisors for the sale of government's 52.98 per cent stake in Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL) have reported receiving "multiple expressions of interest," Tuhin Kanta Pandey, secretary, Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM), which is handling the sale, tweeted. "The transaction will move to the second stage after scrutiny by TA," he added.
"Strategic disinvestment of BPCL progresses: Now moves to the second stage after multiple expressions of interest have been received," finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman tweeted.
While there was no mention of the number of bidders or the names of the bidders, reports say a clutch of private equity funds and/or pension funds might have put in EoIs. 
Reliance Industries, considered a potential investor, did not put in an expression of interest, nor did Saudi Aramco, which is looking to expand into the world's fastest-growing fuel market. 
UK's BP plc and Total of France that were planning to enter the Indian fuel market had previously ruled themselves out of the BPCL race as they did not want to add oil refining assets
BPCL has 22 [er cent of the country’s fuel market and a successful bid would have made Reliance Industries India’s top refiner and fuel retailer.
It is also not known whether Russian energy giant Rosneft-led Nayara Energy, which operates a 20 million tonne oil refinery at Vadinar in Gujarat and also has 5,822 petrol pumps, has put in any bids.
Other potential investors likely to  put in bids included Abu Dhabi National Oil Co (ADNOC) and mining billionaire Anil Agarwal’s Cairn India.
Privatisation of BPCL is essential for meeting the record Rs 2.1 lakh crore target the finance minister has set from disinvestment proceeds in the budget for 2020-21. BPCL operates four refineries in Mumbai (Maharashtra), Kochi (Kerala), Bina (Madhya Pradesh), and Numaligarh (Assam) with a combined capacity of 38.3 million tonne per annum, which is 15.3 per cent of India's total refining capacity of 249.8 million tonne.
While the Numaligarh refinery will be carved out of BPCL and sold to a PSU, the new buyer of the company will get 35.3 million tonne of refining capacity – 12 million tonne Mumbai unit, 15.5 million tonne Kochi refinery and 7.8 million tonne Bina unit. It also owns 17,138 petrol pumps, 6,151 LPG distributor agencies and 61 out of 256 aviation fuel stations in the country.
The bidding for BPCL will be a two-stage affair, with qualified bidders in the first EoI phase being asked to make a financial bid in the second round. Public sector undertakings (PSUs) are not eligible to participate in the privatisation.