Strategic sale plan for sick PSUs may split into core, non-core assets

New Delhi: The strategic disinvestment roadmap of the government may get a makeover this year with plan to undertake sale of sick and loss making companies by dividing their operations into core and non-core and calling bids from investors in packages.

Under the plan, which is still being finalised by the disinvestment department Dipam, non-core assets including land and buildings of several weaker PSUs may be handed over to specialised state-run agencies for redevelopment to realise higher value or for sale through a bidding process. The core asset, including plant and machinery, could be sold separately in packages or effort would be made to put it to use by another PSUs willing to revive operations.

The changes in strategic disinvestment plan is being considered to maximise value from the sale of sick and loss-making public sector undertakings (PSUs) that failed to generate suitable investor in the initial round of bidding.

Sources said government is looking at the state-run developers such as NBCC (India) Ltd to carry on the work of redevelopment of land and buildings of sick PSUs on payment of a fee. The redevelopment work could include determining the current land use and its suitability for industrial, manufacturing or some other purposes.

The Centre had framed guidelines on closure of loss-making companies in 2016 , under which a land management agency (LMA) was to be appointed by the administrative ministry or the CPSE’s board to assist in disposal of land. This work could be taken up by agencies such as NBCC to help better the prospects of sale of sick PSUs.

Several sick PSUs are sitting on huge tracts of land that have the potential for providing huge gains after redevelopment and commercial sale. One such example is Indian Drug and Pharmaceuticals Ltd (IDPL) Company that is sitting on 834-acre of prime land in Rishikesh. Scooters India is another PSU having prime land near UP state capital of Lucknow.

“The land of a few sick PSUs could be commercially utilised by other cash-ri ch PSUs for their expansion plants or other activities. This PSUs-led disinv estment plan for sick units would work best,” said another government official.

The Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) has drawn up plan for strategic sale in over 30 PSUs, including Air India, Air India subsidiary AIATSL, BEML, Scooters India, Bharat Pumps Compressors, and Bhadraw ati, Salem and Durgapur units of steel major SAIL.

The new measure to rope in agencies like NBCC will help some of these entities to get overall higher valuations as their operations would be restructured between core and non-core activities and then put up for sale, in some cas es after redevelopment of land or other assets for commercial use. Government is also looking at using some of the land with sick PSUs for building affordable housing projects.

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