With less than a year to meet the minimum public float norms, the finance ministry is considering the option to de-list loss-making and sick public sector firms which would have little investor interest. The finance ministry is planning to it take up with Sebi and will ask the market regulator to specify de-listing provisions for such firms.
“There is not much point in trying to further divest stake in loss-making PSUs such as Hindustan Photo Films or HMT Ltd just for the sake of meeting the minimum public shareholding norms. Who will be interested in buying shares of these firms,” a senior finance ministry official said.
In 2010, Sebi had made it mandatory for listed state-owned firms to have a minimum public shareholding of 10 per cent, while for listed private companies it pegged the minimum public float at 25 per cent.
The guidelines were to be complied within three years — so private companies have to meet norms by June 2013 and PSUs by August 2013.
The department of disinvestment and the department of public enterprises are expected to identify a list of loss-making PSUs that are listed on the bourses. “We will start the exercise soon and forward the list to Sebi,” the official said.
According to the Public Enterprises Survey 2010-11, there are 62 loss making central PSUs. Of these, Hindustan Photo Films Manufacturing Ltd and ITI Ltd which would have to comply with the minimum public float norms are among the top10 loss-making PSUs.
While the government owns 90.68 per cent stake in Hindustan Photo Films, it has 92.98 per cent stake in ITI Ltd which manufactures telephone and communication equipment.