France’s Engie SA plans to sell its entire 10 percent holding in India’s biggest importer of liquefied natural gas. GDF International, an Engie unit, has written to the four Indian state-owned companies that together own half of Petronet LNG Ltd., to offer shares in proportion to their holding in the company, Petronet said in a stock-exchange filing Thursday. “It is mandatory for GDF to offer its holding to other founders as per the shareholders agreement,” R.K. Garg, finance director of Petronet LNG, said in a phone interview. “Only if the other founders don’t buy, GDF can sell it to anyone it wishes.”
Explorer Oil and Natural Gas Corp., refiners Bharat Petroleum Corp. and Indian Oil Corp., and gas distributor GAIL India Ltd. form the founder group, with a 12.5 percent stake each in Petronet. If any of the founders buy the stake, Petronet, which operates as a joint venture, could become a wholly government-owned company that would reduce its flexibility to take independent decisions.
The founders may not buy the stake, said A.K. Srinivasan, director finance at ONGC. “It is not necessary for us to buy,” he said. “The structure has to be maintained otherwise government approval is required.”