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BG Group gets at least 2 bids for India utility stake-sources

ONGC-led consortium among the final bidders for stake; Germany's E.ON,Adani,Torrent were among initial bidders.

Written by Agencies | Mumbai | Published: March 16, 2012 10:33:09 am

BG Group Plc has received at least two final bids for its 65 percent stake in Gujarat Gas,three sources with direct knowledge of the matter said on Thursday,in a deal valued at about $900 million.

A consortium of three members which is led by state-run Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC),the country’s largest oil and gas producer,was among the final bidders,said the sources,declining to be named as the process is not public yet.

Other companies in the ONGC-led consortium are state-run Gujarat State Petroleum Corp (GSPC) and Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL),the sources said,adding the deadline for submitting final bids ended on Thursday.

BG and ONGC did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Reuters.

Shares in Gujarat Gas,which has a market value of about $1 billion,ended down 0.6 percent on Thursday at 428.80 rupees,while the broader Mumbai market dropped 1.4 percent. The stock is up 20 percent this year.

At the current price,BG’s 65 percent stake in Gujarat Gas is valued at about $700 million. The company acquiring the BG stake will have to make a mandatory open offer for additional stake,valuing the total deal at about $900 million.

BG India,a unit of the UK oil and gas company,announced in November it was looking to sell its stake in Gujarat Gas,as part of restructuring its asset portfolio. Globally,BG Group focuses on exploration and production activities and liquefied natural gas (LNG).

BG India acquired the stake in the western India-focused gas distribution company in 1997.

Gujarat Gas,set up in 1980,currently supplies piped gas to 317,000 domestic and industrial customers and compressed natural gas to 144,000 users,mostly across Surat,Bharuch and Valsad in the western state of Gujarat.

The company also operates a 3,700 kilometre-long gas pipeline network.

The sources said Germany’s biggest utility,E.ON AG , UK-based private equity firm Actis,and India’s Adani group and Torrent group were among the initial bidders for the BG stake.

India’s current gas demand of 166 million cubic metres a day (mmscmd) is projected to rise to 443 mmscmd by 2017,due to the growing number of power plants,industries and vehicles in Asia’s third-largest economy. ($1=50.4 rupees)

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