The Government who had put up its entire stake of 52.98% in Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL) for sale has finally set Nov 16, 2020 as the deadline for the preliminary expression of interest (EoI).
Several behemoths of the industry had been linked to the firm including the likes of Aramco, Total, BP plc etc but it seems unlikely that one of these giants might actually move in for the stake, owing to the $10 billion price tag.
The package includes the ownership of BPCL's three refineries – Mumbai, Kochi in Kerala and Bina in Madhya Pradesh – 17,138 petrol pumps, 6,151 LPG distributor agencies and 61 out of 256 aviation fuel stations in the country.
Ball's in Reliance's Court
Amid the confusions, arise one familiar name - Reliance. Although tight lipped about any bid so far, they are touted as favorites in the race for BPCL and there's a clear reason. The firm had, very recently hired former BPCL chairman Sarthak Behuria, and former Indian Oil Corp (IOC) chairman Sanjiv Singh. Not a bad reason!
Eyes On The Prize
Other prospective bidders include Russian oligarch Rosfnet, Abu Dhabi National Oil Co (ADNOC) and mining billionaire Anil Agarwal.
The bidding 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 bid.
Bottom Line: Ambani is sure to consider his options and given his ambition, it's likely he will put in a bid but with Reliance highly concentrated on taking over the Indian consumer market, it won't be a surprise if they don't place a bid.