No takers for SAIL disinvestment plan, deadline extended

SAIL, extended deadline, disinvestment, 3 steel producing units, The Federal, English news website
The Vizag plant is India’s first shore-based steel plant set up in 1971. As per the Budget 2021-22, asset sales will be key to bridging the government’s yawning budget gap, which will widen to 9.5 per cent of the GDP this year | Representational image: iStock.

With no investors showing interest, the Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) on Tuesday (July 30) extended the deadline to submit the expression of interest (EOI) for the proposed strategic disinvestment of three special steel producing units – Visvesvaraya Iron and Steel Plant in Karnataka, Salem Steel Plant in Tamil Nadu and Alloy Steel Plant in West Bengal.

“We have had no takers for the three units toll August 1 (the last day to receive proposals),” an official privy to the developments told The Federal on condition of anonymity.

The original notification of global invitation for expression of interest for proposed strategic disinvestment of three units of SAIL was issued on July 4. In the first notification, the last date for submission of EOI was August 1, 2019 and the intimation of the shortlisted bidders was scheduled as August 8, 2019.

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With just a day left for the deadline, the SAIL released a notification extending the time to submit proposals. Now, the last date has been set at August 20, 2019. “Since SAIL is not sure whether there would be any bidder, the last date to intimate the shortlisted bidder was not announced,” the official added.

SAIL had made a similar attempt in 2017 but did not work out since the SAIL Board did not give approval for disinvestment in the Salem plant. While the final approval for 100% disinvestment in the Visvesvaraya plant and Alloy plant came in February 9, 2017, the Salem plant got its approval only on June 28, 2019.

According to an official in SAIL, one of the reasons for the authority not finding any takers was the expenditure spent on the total workforce. The Salem plant, which has around 900 employees spend about 8-9% on labour, while its private competitor spends just 2% for labour.

The SAIL employs 758 staff in the West Bengal plant and the Visvesvaraya plant in Karnataka has 333 permanent employees. “The Visveswara plant, despite producing high-quality alloy and special steel, lacks orders. So, there are no takers for it as of now,” the official said.