India to raise $9 bn in privatisations: minister

NEW DELHI, February 28, 2011 (AFP) – India’s government intends to raise 400 billion rupees ($9 billion) by part-privatising state-owned companies in the next fiscal year, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said Monday. Part-privatisations of miner Manganese Ore Ltd and electricity transmission group Power Grid were also a success, but earlier issues by state-run iron-ore miner NMDC and thermal-power generator NTPC were seen as overpriced. “I intend to maintain the momentum of disinvestment,” Mukherjee told lawmakers as he presented the government’s budget for the fiscal year starting April 1.

He said shares worth 400 billion rupees would be sold — the same amount as for the current fiscal year — and that the government would retain a controlling 51-percent stake in all public companies targeted for divestment.

Sales of shares in major state-owned industrial groups last year saw huge demand, with the divestment of a 10-percent stake in Coal India raising 3.4 billion dollars.

Shares in Coal India, the world’s biggest coal miner, were oversubscribed 15 times and the success of the issue was seen as likely to give a boost to the government’s privatisation programme.