SPV of state-run companies may be tasked to redevelop land bank with sick PSUs


The government may rope in state-run developers such as NBCC (India) Ltd to maximise value from the sale of sick and loss-making public sector undertakings (PSUs) that failed to generate suitable investor in the initial round of bidding.

As per a plan shared by the government officials privy to the development, non-core assets including land and buildings of several weaker PSUs may be handed over to specialised state-run agencies for redevelopment to realise higher value or for sale through a bidding process.

Redeveloped land may be offered to investors on lease while ownership of plant and machinery could be transferred completely.

The plan is to create an entity on the line land management agency that could be in the shape of a special purpose vehicle (SPV) with participation from experienced companies such as NBCC.

An approval for such agency may be taken from the cabinet.

The new measure is expected to end the almost dead run being encountered in the disinvestment of weaker PSUs including plans for strategic sale.

Sources said that the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) has drawn up a plan for strategic sale in more than three dozen PSUs, including Air India, Air India subsidiary AIATSL, Dredging Corporation, BEML, Scooters India, Bharat Pumps Compressors, and Bhadrawati, Salem and Durgapur units of steel major SAIL.

The new measure to rope in agencies like NBCC will help some of these entities to get overall higher valuations as their operations would be restructured between core and non-core activities and then put up for sale, in some cases after redevelopment of land or other assets for commercial use.

The new measure would be different from Rs 6 lakh crore asset monetisation plan unveiled by the government where brownfield project in various sectors would be monetised by being in the private sector for management and development and operations of some these assets for a time bound contractual period.

The Centre had framed guidelines on closure of loss-making companies in 2016, under which a land management agency (LMA) was to be appointed by the administrative ministry or the CPSE’s board to assist in disposal of land.

In the new model, such activity could be taken over by another CPSE such as NBCC that can carry on the work of redevelopment on payment of a fee. The redevelopment work could include determining the current land use and its suitability for industrial, manufacturing or some other purposes.

Several sick PSUs are sitting on huge tracts of land that have the potential for providing huge gains after redevelopment and commercial sale. One such example is Indian Drug and Pharmaceuticals Ltd (IDPL) company that is sitting on 834-acre of prime land in Rishikesh.

“The land of a few sick PSUs could be commercially utilised by other cash-rich PSUs for their expansion plants or other activities. This PSUs-led disinvestment plan for sick units would work best,” said another government official.

(Subhash Narayan can be contacted at subhash.n@ians.in)