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Govt to invite fresh bids for 100 per cent stake sale in Pawan Hans

Govt to invite fresh bids for 100 per cent stake sale in Pawan Hans

The government will soon invite fresh bids for 100 per cent stake sale in Pawan Hans - a joint venture between the government and the country's largest oil and gas explorer - by issuing an addendum to the disinvestment document.

Will the government get third-time lucky in its attempt to sell off Pawan Hans? The Department of Disinvestment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) has floated the offer to sell government's 51 per cent stake in the profit-making helicopter services provider twice in the past year. And now, after Oil and Natural Gas Corp's (ONGC) board recently approved divesting its entire 49 per cent stake in the entity, the government is going to issue an amended expression of interest (EoI) shortly.

According to an official, the government will soon invite fresh bids for 100 per cent stake sale in Pawan Hans - a joint venture between the government and the country's largest oil and gas explorer - by issuing an addendum to the disinvestment document.

"An addendum would be issued to the EoI document issued on April 13. The addendum would state that ONGC has expressed its interest in selling its 49 per cent holding and fresh bids can be put in for the entire 100 per cent stake," the official told PTI. Pawan Hans has a fleet of 46 choppers.

It operates seven Dauphin N3 Helicopters for ONGC's offshore operations. These helicopters undertake passenger crew change service and production tasks, including night ambulance, on a regular basis to meet the offshore requirements of the state-owned oil behemoth.

The government had first floated an offer to sell its 51 per cent stake in the helicopter services provider last October, but the EoI was withdrawn in April this year in view of the tepid response. Only two bidders, Indian helicopter major Global Vectra Helicorp and US-based Continental Helicopters, had reportedly shown interest.

Around that time, some investors had suggested that the government and ONGC should sell their stakes together. "Potential investors had then suggested that ONGC's 49 per cent stake too should be sold along with government's 51 per cent. They feared that ONGC holding 49 per cent could mean government interference in some way," the official said.

Subsequently, on April 13, the government came out with a fresh information memorandum for the strategic sale, wherein bidders need to have a minimum net worth of Rs 500 crore. The deadline for Expression of Interest (EoI) was supposed to be June 18 and about half a dozen bidders are believed to have submitted bids this time round. Then, on July 2, ONGC wrote to the government saying that its board had resolved that it would prefer to exit Pawan Hans simultaneously with the government.

The official said the existing bids for the government's 51 per cent stake would stay."We want to give other investors a chance in case they want to bid for entire 100 per cent stake," the official said.

SBI Capital Markets is the transaction advisor for the strategic disinvestment of Pawan Hans.