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Govt to revive strategic selloff in FY17 to keep key PSUs out

New Delhi: The government is set to push strategic sale in the next financial year but is not looking to sell shares in key PSUs such as Bhel or oil companies as well as Specified Undertaking of UTI's (SUUTI's) holdings in three blue chips — ITC, L&T and Axis Bank.

Astrategic sale is the transfer of shares to an institution with management control.

Sources told TOI that the government is working on a "high-powered" panel to ensure "collective responsibility" since civil servants are unwilling to take the burden, fearing that they may be hounded later. The government had sought to revive strategic sale in state-owned companies — starting with over half-a-dozen hotels — during the current financial year but has made no headway.

Compared with its record disinvestment target of Rs 69,500 crore for the current financial year, it is staring to close the year with around Rs 20,000 crore. It has so far mopped up around Rs 13,000 crore this fiscal, with IndianOil providing bulk of the receipts.

"We missed on a few opportunities at the start of the year as the disinvestment department wanted to wait to realize better value. But, we can't wait indefinitely for the value to improve," said a source, indicating the government's keenness to move forward with strategic sale. They pointed out that the government had lost the entire value of its holdings in Air India, MTNL and BSNL by delaying a decision.

But, it isn't just the disinvestment department which is to blame. It moved a note for the Cabinet to get clarity on the issue but the government has failed to decide on it for at least the last couple of months. International investors are awaiting cues on this front as it would signal the government's commitment on the issue.

Sources said strategic sale in oil PSUs and other companies, which had been nationalized, may be difficult immediately given the Supreme Court's insistence on getting Parliamentary nod.

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Date : 08-02-2016 12:42:14