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Indian government divests stakes in key firms

The government of India has divested stakes in three of its most important state-owned defence firms, recent shareholding statistics issued by the companies has shown.

Data submitted to the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) since the beginning of the year has shown that the government has recently reduced its shareholdings in Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), missile manufacturer Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL), and Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL).

In HAL and BDL the government has reduced its ownership to 75% in both companies following their respective listings on the BSE in 2018 through which investors were offered 10% stakes in initial public offerings (IPOs).

In late 2020 the government sold off 15% stakes in both companies through the BSE, raising a total of nearly USD800 million. In BEL, which was listed through an IPO in 2000, the government has reduced its stake to 51%, down from nearly 60% in 2019.

In addition to these divestments, the Indian government announced in early January its intention to sell off an additional 26% stake in defence firm BEML Limited (formerly Bharat Earth Movers Limited), which makes military trucks, artillery, missile launchers, engineering vehicles, and mine-protected vehicles.

The divestment will take its ownership in BEML, which has been listed on the BSE since the mid-1990s, to 28%.

The government also launched IPOs in naval shipyards Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) and Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers in 2020 and 2018, selling off stakes in the firms worth 15% and 25% respectively.

In November 2020 the government also announced plans to sell off a 10% stake in defence metal specialist Mishra Dhatu Nigam (Midhani), which would take its ownership in the company down to 64%.

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