New Delhi: Cairn India's board may tomorrow concede to pay royalty and cess on its mainstay Rajasthan oilfields after parent firm Cairn Energy did a u-turn and accepted riders imposed by the government to clear its over USD 6 billion stake sale to Vedanta Resources.
The board of Cairn India, which had in February opposed changes in the Rajasthan contract making it liable to pay royalty and a Rs 2,500 per tonne cess, will meet tomorrow, following which the results of a shareholder vote called by Cairn Energy on the twin riders will be out, sources privy to the development said.
Cairn Energy, which owns a 52.11 percent stake in Cairn India, has voted to accept the two government conditions. Vedanta, which has already bought a 10 percent stake in the company from Cairn Energy and another 18.5 percent from Petronas of Malaysia and other minority shareholders, has also voted for acceptance of the conditions.
Sources said Cairn Energy Chairman Bill Gammell arrived here today to chair the Cairn India board meeting. Gammell had last month skipped a Cairn India shareholders' meet, apparently to escape uncomfortable questions on the change of position.
After Cairn India's board agrees to make royalty cost-recoverable and pay cess on oil produced from the Rajasthan fields, it will write to its partner, state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC), for consent for the Vedanta transaction.
The ONGC board may consider waiving its preemption or right of first refusal (ROFR) and give Cairn a no-objection certificate to conclude the deal at its board meeting on September 27.
Cairn Energy, which is selling a 40 percent stake in its Indian unit to Vedanta, had previously said it would rather call off the deal than force Cairn India to accept the government's conditions.
Minority shareholders at Cairn India's AGM in Mumbai last month had booed Cairn Energy for changing tack on the issue of royalty and cess to get USD 6.02 billion from the stake sale to Vedanta.
Cairn India had on July 26 stated that its April-June quarter net profit would halve to Rs 1,435 crore if it was asked to share royalty on the Rajasthan crude oil.
The company currently does not pay any royalty on its 70 percent interest in the Rajasthan fields. Royalty, as per the contract, is paid by state-owned ONGC, which got a 30 percent stake in the 6.5 billion barrel field for free.
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on June 27 gave consent to the Cairn-Vedanta deal, subject to Cairn or its successor agreeing to charge or deduct the royalty paid by ONGC from revenues earned from the sale of oil before the profits are split between partners.
First Published: Tuesday, September 13, 2011, 14:44