Without actually stating that it was in the race for making a counter bid against the Cairn-Vedanta $9.6 billion deal, state-run Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) on Thursday said it was examining all legal and contractual implications of the deal.

Refusing to spell out the strategy of the company or its sense towards forming a consortium, ONGC Chairman R. S. Sharma told reporters here that the company was examining the matter and would not like to comment on the merits or demerits of the deal.

ONGC is a 30 per cent partner of Cairn India in the prolific Rajasthan oilfields, which is at the centre of a $9.6 billion takeover deal by London-based Vedanta group.

“In the board meeting held on Thursday, I apprised the board members of the status ever since the Cairn-Vedanta deal was made public. We are tracking the developments closely. There are certain strategic issues for any corporate entity which I cannot share with the media, Mr. Sharma said.

London-listed mining group Vedanta Resources has entered into a deal to acquire 60 per cent stake in Cairn India, the owner of ndia's largest oilfield, for $9.6 billion. It will mark Anil Aggarwal-owned Vedanta's entry in the oil and gas business, but the deal is contingent on government approval. The Petroleum and Natural Gas Ministry had already asked the financial and legal consultants for opinion on the issue and has not closed its options on making a counter offer.

The Ministry is of the view that Cairn Energy has still not provided it the details about the deal it had sought and it would be difficult to arrive at any conclusion before examining that. The Ministry is expecting a reply from Cairn Energy this week or early next week.

“The delay to provide details on the issue is not doing anything good for the successful conclusion of the deal.

“The Petroleum Ministry has not taken any firm view but is also not happy with the manner in which it was informed about the whole affair through the media,” a senior official said.

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