The Centre could miss the 2018-19 disinvestment target by 20 per cent, global diversified financial group Macquarie said in a note. This fiscal year’s disinvestment target has been set at Rs 800 billion. However, in the first half, the Centre managed to mop up a little over 10 per cent.
“Divestment has got off to a slow start, with only 10 per cent having been achieved till now. Despite the government’s confidence, there could be 20 per cent downside to its Rs 800-billion target,” the brokerage firm said in the note.
Macquarie observed that the government would have to rely on big-ticket share sales in companies such as Coal India, ONGC, Axis Bank and ITC to shore up the disinvestment kitty. Another option before the government is to push government-owned companies for large buybacks, it said.
Last week, Nalco announced Rs 5-billion share buyback. Cochin Shipyard is likely to announce share repurchase programme on Tuesday. Reports suggest large PSUs, including Indian Oil, ONGC and Oil India, too, are likely to consider buybacks. Market experts are of the opinion that besides the conventional share sales and buy backs, the Centre will have to come out with something “out of the box” to have a real shot at meeting the target. “It will be interesting to see if the government ends up doing something like the ONGC–HPCL deal to push up collections,” noted Macquarie. Last fiscal year, ONGC had acquired the government’s 51 per cent stake in HPCL for Rs 370 billion.
The deal had helped the government exceed 2017-18’s Rs 725-billion target.