Pre-bid meeting for sale of 51 percent Pakistan State Oil stake next week

ISLAMABAD (November 06 2002) : Privatisation Minister Altaf Saleem said that the pre-bid meeting for the sale of 51 percent stake in Pakistan State Oil will now be held between November 12 and 15.

Talking to Business Recorder he said the Privatisation Commission has asked the bidders to confirm a date for the pre-bid meeting next week. Earlier, Altaf Saleem had said that the pre-bid meeting would take place in the first week of November.

“We want a bidding date for PSO that is convenient to the bidders,” he said. Kuwait Petroleum Corporation, Midrock of Saudi Arabia, Caltex and Fauji Foundation of Pakistan are the four pre-qualified bidders. However, analysts said that Caltex did not take part in the due diligence, therefore, it did not appear a serious bidder.

The minister said the pre-bid meeting is held to answer the questions of the bidders relating to the transaction and make any clarifications they want. He said the bidders in consultation with the Privatisation Commission may also decide a bidding date.

“Ideal would be to hold the bidding the same evening. But that is not practical. It is up to the bidders to decide what dates suit them for bidding,” he said. He said the holding of pre-bid meeting, however, showed that the government was ready to go ahead with the transaction.

The minister said the ECC in a meeting on Monday also sorted out all the issues relating to PSO so that no liabilities were transferred to the buyer. Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz chaired the ECC meeting.

He said the issues like what amount PSO had to receive from Karachi Electric Supply Corporation or some other government departments were settled. Similarly, the payments PSO had to make to other departments were also settled for the sake of bidding, he added.

In the year ended June 30, 2002, Pakistan State Oil sold 11.9 million tonnes or 70 percent of the 17 million tonnes of oil consumed. Its profit rose 42 percent to 3.2 billion rupees.

On Monday, the company's shares fell 10.05 rupees, or 4.9 percent, to 191.15 rupees on reports that the pre-bid meeting may be delayed.

The government has a 58 percent stake in Pakistan State Oil and is being considered the most important transaction of the present government, which may not go through before the transfer of power. The new government will take up the transaction.

“I hope everything goes well with the next government. We have prepared a lot of transactions for sale and the new government won't have to do a lot of work to sell them,” Saleem said. He said if the new government decides to scrap the transactions prepared by the Privatisation Commission, it will take up to 18 months to prepare the new ones.

He said Habib Bank Limited was also ready to be sold before December and Pakistan Telecommunication Company Ltd was also ready. He said PTCL bidding could take place any time but the government was just waiting for the right time to hold the bidding as and when the global telecom industry is out of crisis.

He said the OGDCL was also ready for privatisation and the bidding could be held in January. The government is aiming to earn about 2 billion dollars from the sale of its assets to repay its foreign loan.

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