The government has received three preliminary bids for buying controlling stake in Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL). While a special purpose vehicle floated by the mining conglomerate, Vedanta Limited, and its London-based parent company, Vedanta Resources, submitted expression of interest (EoI) before the close of deadline on November 16, 2020, the other two bidders are said to be global funds, one of them being Apollo Global Management.

According to reports, the transaction advisors have begun evaluating the EoIs to ascertain whether the bidders qualify the bidding criteria and have the financial strength for the acquisition. The evaluation is expected to take 2-3 weeks, post which the request for proposal and financial bids will be invited.

The government has proposed to sell its entire 52.98 per cent stake in BPCL as a part of its plans to raise Rs 2.1 trillion from disinvestment proceeds in 2020-21. BPCL has made a significant presence in the city gas distribution sector with the award of licenses for 37 geographical areas by the Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board. It operates four refineries in Mumbai (Maharashtra), Kochi (Kerala), Bina (Madhya Pradesh), and Numaligarh (Assam) with a combined capacity of 38.3 million tonnes per annum, 15.3 per cent of the country’s total refining capacity of 249.8 million tonnes (mt). Of this, the Numaligarh refinery will be carved out of BPCL and sold to a public sector undertaking and the buyer will get 35.3 mt of refining capacity (12 mt Mumbai unit, 15.5 mt Kochi and 7.8 mt Bina unit). BPCL also 17,355 petrol pumps, 6,156 liquefied petroleum gas distributor agencies and 61 (out of 256) aviation fuel stations in the country.