Keen to divest its stake in the joint venture Haldia Petrochemicals Ltd (HPL), the West Bengal government, through Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India, has invited expressions of interest.

The 39.99 per cent equity held by the state government through a clutch of state entities is being put on the block. Deloitte is the transaction advisor to the state’s apex industry promotion agency, and will advise and manage the disinvestment process.

The 675 million shares being put on the block also includes the 155 million shares on which HPL’s other main promoter, The Chatterjee Group, lays claim.

Purnendu Chatterjee of TCG will have the first right of refusal, but will need to arrange his funds within a month or so, sources connected with the development said. The EoIs are to be submitted by June 10.

Indian Oil Corporation and a clutch of lenders also have a stake (about 8.3 per cent each) in HPL. However, enquiries revealed that HPL’s valuation has been fixed at a low level, given its beleaguered state. Starved of funds and steeped in losses, the company’s board is set to be meeting any time now to discuss a mandatory reference to the BIFR. HPL narrowly averted this in March, 2012— when its lenders agreed to a Rs. 128 crore loan to equity conversion. It’s total debts top Rs. 3500 crore. They have refused further exposure, and the plant now runs at a capacity of around 65 per cent.

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