Contrary to reports, oil PSUs (public sector undertakings) will not make a counter bid to Vedanta Resources' $9.6 billion offer to buy Cairn India, with the Petroleum and Natural Gas Ministry now disinclined to a rival bid.

“There is no counter bid,” a top Petroleum Ministry official said. “The price at which Vedanta is acquiring Cairn India already is too high.”

The change in stance possibly came about after Vedanta Resources Chairman Anil Agarwal spoke to Petroleum Minister Murli Deora at least on a couple of occasions this week.

There were also reports that Mr. Agarwal met Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday on issues relating to his India projects, but no confirmation could be obtained.

Also, the Prime Minister's Office is believed to have discussed the issue, sources said, adding that Cairn Energy is likely to respond to the Ministry's queries by Friday.

Awaiting clarification

The Ministry, which till early this week was nudging Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) to cobble up an alliance with Oil India and gas utility GAIL for a rival bid, says that it is only awaiting clarifications from U.K.'s Cairn Energy on it selling majority stake in Cairn India.

Meanwhile, the board of ONGC, which is a 30 per cent partner of Cairn India in the prolific Rajasthan oilfields that are at the centre of its parent Cairn Energy's deal with Vedanta, is likely to be briefed about the possible scenarios.

Cairn Energy Chief Executive Bill Gammell had on Wednesday stated that his firm would seek “Central Government's endorsement and any necessary consent” for the Vedanta deal.

Sesa Goa shareholder moves apex court

A shareholder of Sesa Goa on Wednesday moved the Supreme Court seeking to restrain it from participating in Cairn India's takeover by parent the Vedanta group, saying the company was under probe for alleged serious frauds.

The petitioner, Harinarayan G. Bajaj, said Sesa Goa's acquisition by successive players since 1998 had been challenged in the Supreme Court, which has asked the Bombay High Court to hear the case.

Mr. Bajaj alleged that the company itself was acquired by violating the provisions under the Substantial Acquisition of Shares and Takeover Regulations.

He sought the court to direct Sesa Goa “to refrain from making any open offer or investing in the shares of Cairn India till the outcome of this petition.”

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