Thursday, April 25, 2024

Govt shares to see light

21 enterprises face deadlines
The wait for government shares is likely to end soon, as a breakthrough in offloading shares of state-owned enterprises finally came yesterday. The government set deadlines for 21 SoEs.
The offloading will begin with Meghna Petroleum and Jamuna Oil Company by February 27 and finish with Karnaphuli Paper Mills by December .
Some other companies were kept out of the plan due to a delay in their asset valuation.
The decision came at a meeting between the finance minister and top officials of these companies in Dhaka.
“If anybody fails, he will have to resign,” reiterated AMA Muhith, the finance minister, after a two-hour meeting.
However, there was no discussion on the shares of multinational companies where the government has ownership.
The offloading of shares by the SoEs had been hanging in balance despite the finance minister’s repeated requests since 2009. Even, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s approval in September last year on offloading such stakes did not work. Only National Tubes and Rupali Bank could comply.
Meanwhile, the stockmarket went volatile; both index and capitalisation doubled in just one year, mainly due to scarcity of stocks. Over 30 lakh investors ran after only around 250 stocks.
Muhith refuted the allegation that this is not the right time to offload state shares, as the market is facing a liquidity crunch.
To the question that the market cannot consume the shares at the moment, he said, “not at all”.
New companies will continue to come with a reformed book building method, he added.
Muhith’s predecessor AB Mirza Azizul Islam also echoed the same.
“My experiences say the prices will not go down with such offloading,” said Islam, also a former chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
He said: “This is a necessity to stabilise the market.”
The offloading will kick off with selling 17 percent shares each of already listed Meghna Petroleum and Jamuna Oil by this month, the finance minister said.
Four companies’ shares — Titas (15 percent), Desco (15 percent), Bangladesh Shipping Corporation (17.5 percent) and Liquefied Petroleum Gas — will be offloaded by March.
Though the deadline for offloading 20 percent shares of Sheraton Hotel has been set at March 31, the minister said the date might be deferred due to the asset revaluation issue.
Telephone Shilpa Sangstha and CNG Company’s shares will hit the market by April and May respectively.
Shares of Progoti, Chittagong Dry Dock, Bangladesh Biman, Essential Drugs, Bangladesh Cable and Sonargaon Hotel will be offloaded within June, and Bakhrabad Gas Transmission and Distribution’s within July.
Teletalk and BTCL will join the market in September and Karnaphuli Paper Mills in December.
Offloading shares of Power Grid hangs on the asset revaluation issue. “We have found the asset revaluation of Power Grid is defective,” said the minister. A committee headed by the SEC chairman will look into the revaluation issue, he added.
Shares of Padma Oil will not be offloaded as already 50 percent of its shares are on the market. Rural Power Co’s shares will not be sold, as its 79 percent shares are held by different samities (associations).
The government has also decided not to offload Bangabandhu Bridge, saying that its shares will be sold along with the Padma Bridge.
The plan for offloading the shares of different sugar mills and a blade factory was dropped from the list, said the minister.

 

Via: The Daily Star

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