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Divestment can raise $95 bn, wipe deficit clean: Study

This article was posted on Jun 8, 2009 and is filed under Press Releases

NEW DELHI: Divestment of even minority stake in state-owned firms can raise nearly $95 billion (Rs 450,309 crore), help clean the red ink on the
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government’s balance sheet and make enough room for another fiscal stimulus, said an independent study released on Monday.

The study by Delhi-based brokerage firm SMC Capitals said as much as $94.77 billion can be raised from the sale of equity in state-run firms even if the government retains 51 percent controlling stake.

“The current fiscal deficit is at $62.26 billion, that is about 6.23 percent of the GDP, much lower than the amount that the government has the potential to garner by selling the stakes up to 51 percent in the listed PSUs only,” the study said.

“Though it is unlikely that the government would divest up to 51 percent in all listed PSUs, the value that can be unlocked from a well planned secondary public offering is huge,” said SMC Capitals equity head Jagannadham Thunuguntla.

Back-of-the-envelope calculations throw up these figures: If the government were to divest 47.38 percent of its holdings in National Mineral Development Corp (NMDC), it would rake in about Rs.81,263 crore.

Similarly, MMTC (formerly Minerals and Metals Trading Corp) would fetch Rs.75,149 crore by selling 48.33 percent to the public.

ONGC, one of the largest PSUs by market capitalisation (Rs 249,778 crore) would add Rs 57,799 crore to the government’s coffers by offloading 23.14 percent.

Theoretically, SMC said, if the government brought down its holding to 51 percent in 45 listed PSUs, its coffers would swell by Rs 446,156 crore, enough to wipe off the Rs 330,000-crore fiscal deficit and leave it with about Rs 116,156 crore to spend.

However, it said, the government in all probability would look at maximising the returns by diluting as little as possible to protect the interests of sensitive sectors like banking.

“By tinkering with the structures and diluting as low a stake as possible, the government would want to garner as much funds as it can,” said Thunuguntla.

“If we add the divestment sale to the funds that can be generated through fresh IPOs of PSUs like NHPC, OIL and BSNL, almost Rs 150,000 crore can be generated.”

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