After three days of suspense, the West Bengal Government, on Thursday, announced its decision to accept the bid submitted by Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) for buying 39.9 per cent of Haldia Petrochemicals Ltd. equity held by a government agency.

“After considering all aspects, IOC has been identified as the sole valid bidder,” West Bengal Industry Minister Partha Chatterjee said after meetings with IOC officials and transaction advisers Deloitte, who were appointed to handle the share sale. The equity of the block is held by West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation, the state’s apex industry promotion agency. IOC holds over 8 per cent stake in HPL, besides having feedstock supply tie-ups with HPL from its Haldia refinery.

HPL’s other major shareholder, Purnendu Chatterjee-led The Chatterjee Group (TCG), would be offered the right of first refusal (RoFR). “We have already sent a letter to IOC intimating our decision,” the minister said adding that a letter would also be written to TCG shortly, asking them to match the offer. TCG will have a month to respond.

It is learnt that the price offered by IOC is higher than the reserve price fixed by the government, and the Group of Ministers (GoM) on HPL, set up by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, has decided to accept the IOC bid for WBIDC’s stake in the petrochemicals firm. Mr. Chatterjee declined to reveal the reserve price.

The other companies which had made a pitch for HPL, includes Reliance Industries, Cairn Energy, GAIL and ONGC. The government is selling the WBIDC share to revive the ailing company.

However, matters took a curious turn on Monday, the deadline for submitting price bids, when the government veiled the entire affair in a shroud of secrecy, triggering speculations about backdoor entries after expiry of bid deadline.