State-owned BPCL has brought a voluntary retirement scheme for its employees ahead of the government privatising the country's third biggest oil refiner and second-largest fuel retailer. "The Corporation has decided to offer a Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS), with a view to enable employees, who are not in a position to continue in service of the Corporation due to various personal reasons, to request for grant of voluntary retirement from the services of the Corporation," Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL) said in an internal notice to its employees.
The 'Bharat Petroleum Voluntary Retirement Scheme - 2020 (BPVRS-2020)' opened on July 23 and will close on August 13. A senior company official said the VRS has been brought to offer an exit option for any employee or officer who does not want to work under a private management.
"Some employees feel their role, position or place of posting may change once BPCL is privatised. So this scheme offers them an exit option," he said. BPCL, where the government is selling its entire 52.98 per cent stake, has about 20,000 employees.
The official said 5 to 10 per cent of employees are expected to opt for VRS. Expressions of Interest (EoI) for buying BPCL are due on July 31.
All employees who have completed 45 years of age will be eligible for the scheme, according to the VRS notice accessed by PTI. It, however, excludes active sportspersons (employees recruited as sportsperson who are yet to be deployed in mainstream) and board level executives.
"Employees opting for VRS would be eligible to receive a compensation payment equivalent to two months' salary for each completed year of service or the monthly salary at the time of voluntary retirement multiplied by the balance months of service left before normal data of retirement on superannuation, whichever is less," it said. Repatriation expenses, as payable in case of retirement, will also be paid. Employees who opt for voluntary retirement will be eligible for medical benefits under Post Retirement Medical Benefit Scheme.
Also, they would be eligible for encashment of leaves including casual, earned and privilege leaves. While those opting for VRS will neither be eligible for employment in company's joint ventures nor be engaged as retainers/consultants/advisors, any persons facing disciplinary action will not be eligible for the scheme, the notice said.
BPCL will give buyers ready access to 15.3 per cent of India's oil refining capacity and 22 per cent of the fuel market share in the world's fastest-growing energy market. BPCL has a market capitalisation of about Rs 97,247 crore and the government stake at current prices is worth over Rs 51,500 crore. The successful bidder will also have to make an open offer to other shareholders for acquiring another 26 per cent at the acquisition price.
Privatisation of BPCL is essential for meeting the record Rs 2.1 lakh crore target the finance minister has set from disinvestment proceeds in the budget for 2020-21. BPCL operates four refineries in Mumbai (Maharashtra), Kochi (Kerala), Bina (Madhya Pradesh), and Numaligarh (Assam) with a combined capacity of 38.3 million tonnes per annum, which is 15.3 per cent of India's total refining capacity of 249.8 million tonnes.
While the Numaligarh refinery will be carved out of BPCL and sold to a PSU, the new buyer of the company will get 35.3 million tonnes of refining capacity. BPCL also owns about 16,309 petrol pumps and 6,113 LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) distributor agencies in the country. Besides, it has 51 LPG bottling plants. The company distributes 22 per cent of petroleum products consumed in the country by volume as of March this year and has more than a fifth of the 256 aviation fuel stations in India. The government has appointed Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India LLP as its transaction advisor for the strategic disinvestment process.
The government of India is proposing strategic disinvestment of its entire shareholding in BPCL comprising of 114.91 crore equity shares, which constitutes 52.98 per cent of BPCL's equity share capital, along with transfer of management control to a strategic buyer (except BPCL's equity shareholding of 61.65 per cent in Numaligarh Refinery Ltd), the notice inviting offer said. The bidding will be a two-stage affair, with qualified bidders in the first EoI phase being asked to make a financial bid in the second round.
Public sector undertakings (PSUs) "are not eligible to participate" in the privatisation, the offer document said. Any private company having a net worth of USD 10 billion is eligible for bidding and a consortium of not more than four firms will be allowed to bid, it said.
According to the bidding criteria, the lead member of the consortium must hold 40 per cent stake and others must have a minimum net worth of USD 1 billion. Changes in the consortium are allowed within 45 days, but the lead member cannot be changed, it added.