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India’s IOC, Shell eye Reliance pumps stake -paper

Reuters 

Fri Mar 20, 2009 1:04am EDT

MUMBAI, March 20 (Reuters) – Indian Oil Corp (IOC.BO) and the Indian unit of Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L) are front runners for buying a 50 percent stake in Reliance Industries’ (RELI.BO) retail fuel business, the Economic Times said on Friday.

Citing an unnamed person familiar with the matter, the newspaper said state-run refiners Bharat Petroleum Corp (BPCL.BO) and Hindustan Petroleum Corp (HPCL.BO) were also invited by Reliance to bid.

“We are looking at the proposal and will take a call after the due diligence is done,” the paper quoted Sarthak Behuria, chairman of state-run Indian Oil Corp, as saying.

A spokesman for Shell told the paper the company does not comment on speculation.

Reliance, India’s largest private refiner, has been looking at ways to revive its retail fuel pumps that were shut when world oil prices rose last year making it difficult to compete with state refiners that sold fuel at government-set low prices.

“We want to look at options of a collaboration with existing market players,” P.M.S. Prasad, the company’s chief executive for its oil and gas operations, told the paper.

Reliance has invested nearly $1.4 billion on the fuel retailing business and has a network of 1,432 petrol pumps across the country, the paper said.

A spokesman for Reliance reached by Reuters said he would not comment on the report.

Earlier this month, the Business Standard had reported that Reliance was in talks with Hindustan Petroleum to lease out its shuttered fuel pumps. [ID:nDEL400277] (Reporting by Janaki Krishnan; Editing by Ranjit Gangadharan)

 

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