Govt can get $3.7 billion for its stake in HZL, Balco: Anil Agarwal

Keen to buy government's residual stake in Hindustan Zinc and Bharat Aluminium Co, Vedenta Resources Chairman Anil Agarwal Thursday said the government can get Rs 25,000 crore (about USD 3.7 billion) from stake sale.

Govt can get $3.7 billion for its stake in HZL, Balco: Anil Agarwal

New Delhi: Keen to buy government's residual stake in Hindustan Zinc and Bharat Aluminium Co, Vedenta Resources Chairman Anil Agarwal Thursday said the government can get Rs 25,000 crore (about USD 3.7 billion) from stake sale.

Vedanta had in 2000-01 acquired government's 51 percent stake in Bharat Aluminium Company Ltd for Rs 551.50 crore, and in 2002-03 it bought 26 percent stake in Hindustan Zinc Ltd for Rs 445 crore.

The firm acquired 18.92 percent stake in HZL in exercise of call option clause in the shareholder's agreement between government and the firm. It had also acquired an additional 20 percent stake in HZL from public.

It now wants to buy the residual 49 percent stake in Bharat Aluminium Co (Balco) and 29.54 percent in Hindustan Zinc Ltd (HZL).

"It is a commodity. It goes up and down. Whenever they are ready... But, generally I would say they would get about Rs 25,000 crore for both. Its original value was Rs 500 crore," Agarwal told PTI in an interview.

In 2012, the NRI billionaire had offered about USD 2.57 billion to buy the government's remaining stake in the zinc miner and USD 296.5 million for the aluminium producer.

"If you see Hindustan Zinc... We have call option and we have given the call option and they (government) have to come back to us. We have not heard from them.

"A long discussion has happened, the ball is in their court and whenever they decide we will be more than willing to either participate or if they sell in the market, its fine," Agarwal said.

When asked if he is willing to raise the price, he said: "As and when this happens, it is all market driven...If we bid more they can sell it to us, but let them make up their mind."

On government's role in economy, Agarwal said: "I have always said, that in none of the democratic countries, government runs the business. Government should be as much as possible out of the Public Sector Enterprises (PSU).

"Divest, not to give it to an individual, but they should make a corporation. Run by people, CEO-driven, CEO incentivised enough to run the firm like ITC, like HDFC. ONGC can become another Exxon."

Agarwal's comments on stake sale comes against the backdrop of Mines Ministry writing to the Finance Ministry that selling government's stake in HZL is not a "wise move" as it is the only firm in India controlling zinc production, considered strategic due to its large scale industrial utility.

Even the Supreme Court, last month, had questioned the government's move towards showing "hurry" in selling its share in HZL, which deals with "strategic minerals".

The apex court also restrained the government from going ahead with any further disinvestment of its stake in the firm.