India to sell stakes in two energy companies

NEW DELHI, September 6, 2010 (AFP) – India said Monday it aims to sell stakes in two more state-run energy firms as part of its plans to speed reforms and raise funds to combat poverty. The Congress-led government is looking to sell 10 percent of its stake in Indian Oil Corp and a five-percent stake in Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC), Oil Secretary S. Sundareshan told reporters in New Delhi.

The announcement is part of New Delhi’s plan to raise a record 400 billion rupees (8.5 billion dollars) from asset sales in the financial year to March 2011.

Sundareshan, the chief bureaucrat in the oil ministry, said the department “has taken an in-principle decision” on the sale of the stakes and “we have to go to cabinet now (for approval).”

Under the process, Indian Oil will also sell a 10 percent stake via the issue of fresh shares, Sundareshan said, adding the sales in both companies are expected to be completed between January and March 2011.

Sundareshan gave no details about how the government hoped to raise from the sales.

The move comes after state-run Coal India said last month that its initial public offering, which is expected to raise more than three bi