India Government to Seek Coal India View on Buyback, B-UTV Says

The views of Coal India Ltd. (COAL) will be sought on a plan to buy back shares held by the Indian government, Bloomberg UTV reported today, citing Newswire 18.

Coal India has received a cabinet note on the matter, the news agency quoted Coal Secretary Alok Perti as saying.

India may allow state-owned companies, including Coal India, to buy back shares owned by the government to narrow a budget gap as an alternative to dwindling proceeds from public offerings, Disinvestment Secretary Mohammad Haleem Khan said Oct. 13. The South Asian nation has raised 11.4 billion rupees ($220 million) since April, or about 3 percent of the target, as falling stock markets hurt demand for shares.

Coal India, the world’s biggest producer of the commodity, climbed 4.4 percent to 322.25 rupees as of 1:35 p.m. in Mumbai trading, after gaining as much as 5.1 percent. The stock has risen 2.3 percent this year, compared with a 22 percent decline in the benchmark Sensitive Index.

Coal Secretary Perti could not immediately be reached in his office.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said last month it would be a “challenge” to narrow the government’s budget deficit to a four-year low of 4.6 percent of gross domestic product by the end of March.

The coal miner, in which the government holds a 90 percent stake, and its units had cash and equivalent of 549.8 billion rupees as of Sept. 30, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The government sold Coal India shares in October 2010 in the nation’s largest IPO. The sale was 15 times oversubscribed and raised 152 billion rupees, helping the government meet part of its asset-sale target for that year.

Oil & Natural Gas Corp., India’s biggest exploration company, withdrew its share-sale document Nov. 22 after an oil ministry official said the proposed offering may not take place in the year ending March 31. India planned to sell stakes in companies including ONGC, Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd. and National Building Construction Corp.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rajesh Kumar Singh in New Delhi at rsingh133@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Amit Prakash at aprakash1@bloomberg.net

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