It was advantage Tamil Nadu on Wednesday too in the Neyveli Lignite Corporation (NLC) divestment issue, with the Centre deciding to offload 3.56 per cent and not five per cent as it had proposed earlier.

The decision, taken by an Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) in New Delhi, will roughly translate into around Rs.140 crore less spend for the State on the deal. Tamil Nadu on Monday announced that acquisition of five per cent would cost around Rs.500 crore.

With the decision of EGoM, the 3.56 per cent stake in the Central public sector undertaking would cost about Rs.360 crore, official sources said, adding the State government had been informally told of the development. The price, they said, was linked to the current price of the NLC scrip – about Rs.60 each.

Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, who had suggested that the Centre consider offloading the five per cent in NLC in favour of the State towards divesting and yet not seen as privatising, had also pointed out that public shareholding in the ‘navaratna PSU’ was already 6.44 per cent. Hence, it would be enough to divest 3.56 more to achieve the minimum public shareholding norm of 10 per cent in the PSU.

While agreeing her suggestion, the Centre also facilitated the process, the sources said. The Department of Disinvestment wrote to the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) seeking preference to Tamil Nadu State PSUs.

The State on its part had decided on five PSUs that can be qualified as Qualified Institutional Bidders. These firms would be acquiring the stake in NLC by participating in the Institutional Placement Programme. The issue is likely in the first week of August and the process completed ahead of the August 8 deadline, the sources said. The next step would involve the Department of Disinvestment filing the offer documents with SEBI.

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