Amidst reports about shelving its disinvestment plans for HLL Lifecare Limited, the Union government has so far not called for a halt to the preliminary unbundling processes progressing slowly.
Those acquainted with the disinvestment proceedings of the company told The Hindu that they had not received any communication from the Centre to stall the procedures set in motion earlier. The task of selecting intermediaries had already commenced. The preliminary process involved the selection of a transaction adviser, a legal adviser and an asset valuer.
A prominent legal firm based in Mumbai was selected as the legal adviser on January 31. Bidding for the transaction adviser is yet to take place and the next step would be the finalisation of the asset valuer. The officials tasked with the process were yet to get any direction from the Centre to either stop or to go slow and the procedures were steadily progressing, sources said.
Trade union delegations that met Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in New Delhi separately said the Minister had assured them that the disinvestment proposal was only a recommendation of the NITI Aayog and his Ministry had not taken a final call on it so far.
The NITI Ayog had recommended that 100% of the government’s equity in the company may be sold in a two-stage auction process and the vaccine venture and Medipark, which are of strategic importance and also serve a public purpose, be hived off as separate Special Purpose Vehicles and retained in the public sector itself.
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs granted in-principle approval for the proposal on November 1. In the case of HLL Lifecare, the methods of valuation suggested included discounted cash flow, asset valuation and relative valuation. Many more key steps are left for completing the process and the government could, at any stage, relinquish or alter its plans.
It is also felt that the disinvestment of HLL Lifecare sans the vaccine venture and the Medipark would not appear to be attractive to potential bidders and hence the proposal may not take off as easy as expected by the Centre. But the proposal is considered to be part of the government strategy to pull out of core sectors, sources said.