Sole bidder Indian Oil bids below Rs3,000 cr for 31% Haldia Petro stake

Indian Oil Corporation has emerged the sole bidder for the West Bengal government's 31-per cent stake in the joint sector Haldia Petrochemicals Ltd, after all other bidders backed out at different stages.

Indian Oil is reported to have made an offer of less than Rs3,000 crore for the 31-per cent sareholding of the state government in the HPL.

Originally, several companies, including Indian Oil Corporation, ONGC, GAIL, OIL, Cairn and Reliance Industries, had qualified to bid for the Haldia Petrochem stake (See: RIL, IOC, GAIL-OIL lead race for Haldia Petrochem stake).

RIL, which was earlier considered the strongest contender, did not put in bids till the deadline ended at noon today.

Reliance, which had shown interest in the initial rounds, objected to the state government's decision to receive bids only in sealed envelope instead of an open auction that allows participant to step up their offer depending on competition.

State-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) had pulled out previously because of concerns over litigation involving HPL.

The other state-owned companies GAIL and OIL also opted out of the bidding due to a last minute change in guidelines by the state government.

State-owned companies had earlier decided to submit bids in a consortium. But the West Bengal government was against companies bidding in a consortium.

Cairn India, owned by mining baron Anil Agarwal's Vedanta Resources, and Naveen Jindal's Jindal Steel and Power Ltd had also expressed interest but decided not to bid, perhaps due to possible litigations the company is involved in.

With no other bidders to counter Indian Oil's bid offer, it is, however, not clear if Indian Oil would be awarded the state government's shareholding in the troubled petrochemicals project.

Also, the reserve price for the 31-per cent state government stake has not been specified ahead of the submission of bids and is still not known.

Purnendu Chatterjee-led The Chatterjee Group (TCG), a joint promoter of HPL, has the right of first refusal over the West Bengal government's stake.

TCG will have 30 days to match the highest bid and another month to make payments.