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Govt to sell stake in NTPC, more PSUs on the block

Continuing with the its agenda of PSU divestment, CCEA on Monday, gave a green signal to divest a further 5 percent stake in NTPC.

Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: Continuing with the its agenda of PSU divestment, CCEA on Monday, gave a green signal to divest a further 5 percent stake in the profit-making public sector undertaking National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) and said more PSUs will follow.

The process will be done through a follow on offer, Anand Sharma, the Union Minister for Commerce and Industry said here on Monday. The 5 percent stake sale by government is likely to raise Rs 8,000 cr and the follow on offer of NTPC is will be executed through an auction.
After NTPC’s follow on offer govt will hold 84.5 percent stake in the PSU. NTPC’s market capitalisation currently stands at Rs 1,72,000 cr.

Govt had divested its 10.5 percent stake in the first public offer of NTPC after which its holding in the company was 89.5 percent.

Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) also cleared 10 percent divestment of another PSU Satluj Vidyut Nigam. CCEA has also given a go ahead to 10 percent stake sale in all profit making PSUs.

Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam is a joint venture between the Centre and the Himachal Pradesh government. The Centre holds 75 percent stake in the JV, while the rest is owned by the
state government.

"After this disinvestment, Government of India`s shareholding in SJVNL would come down to 65 percent and Himachal Pradesh government`s stake in the firm would remain same at 25 percent," Sharma said, adding that the paid up equity capital of the company at present is Rs 4108.81 crore.

"To make it inclusive and participatory, part of the shares would be offered to the employees of the state-run firms," Sharma said.

The instrument through which the stake sale would take place will be decided later. It could either be through a follow-on public offer or through Qualified Institutional
Placement of shares by the PSU.

Addressing a press conference here Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma also informed about the other decisions taken in the meeting including the change in the price index data calculation and Telenor-Unitech deal.

Informing the media about the changes in the calculation of the inflation data Sharma said that year 2004-05 will be considered as the base year instead of 1993-94. The inflation data will be released on the monthly basis w.e.f November 14.

However, government will continue to weekly index of the primary and fuel items.
The decision to release inflation on a monthly basis is aimed at accurately capturing the changes in prices of manufactured goods, where fluctuation is minimal.

"The new series of WPI (Wholesale Price Index) inflation with 2004-05 as base year would be launched soon," Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma told reporters after a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs.

He further said, "The reason is... frequency. The response (to price change every week) is poor particularly from the manufacturing sector. On monthly basis, the response is bound to be better, reflecting true position," Commerce Minister Anand Sharma told reporters after a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs.

The new series is based on the recommendations of a working group headed by Planning Commission Member Abhijit Sen, Sharma said.

The monthly release of WPI is a widely followed international practice and the approval is expected to improve the quality of the Wholesale Price Index, he said.

"A WPI for primary articles and commodities in Fuel, Power, Light and Lubricant Group would facilitate weekly monitoring of the prices of agricultural commodities and petroleum products which are sensitive in nature," he added.

The govt has given cleared the deal between Telenor Asia and Unitech Wireless. After the deal Telenor will hold 67.5 percent stake in the Unitech Wireless. Telenor will now invest Rs 3,750 cr in Unitech.

The government also said it will ensure availability of rice, wheat, sugar and other essential commodities at reasonable prices, amid growing concerns about rising prices.

The Cabinet Committee on Prices, at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, reviewed comprehensively prices and availability of essential commodities like wheat, rice and sugar, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma told reporters here after the meeting.

"The government is absolutely confident of ensuring availability of essential commodities at adequate prices," he said. Food and agriculture ministries have been asked to issue a detailed note on the situation, he added.

"The government is monitoring the price situation on a regular basis," he said.

Government has so far brought the initial public offer (IPO) of two other PSUs in 2009, NHPC and Oil India Ltd. While the investors’ reaction to NHPC has been lukewarm and the stock has shown a dismal performance on the bourses, on the other hand, Oil India opened to a much higher price than its IPO price. Both the IPOs together have mopped up around Rs 8,000 cr.

Government has already decided to divest its stake in Coal India Ltd (CIL) besides there are several PSUs waiting to be listed in the stock exchanges including Power Finance Corporation, Hudco, Rites, TCIL and others.

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