Pranab hopeful of further decline in inflation

New Delhi: Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee expressed confidence that inflation would come down further even as the rate of price rise after a gap of five months came down to single-digits at 9.97% in July, reports PTI.

"Of course, it will moderate," he told reporters, when asked about the possibility of inflation sliding further in coming months.

"Policy rates had some impact (on sliding inflation) but there are also base factors," Mr Mukherjee said expressing satisfaction over declining inflation.

The minister attributed the slide in inflation of food items to seasonal factors "particularly in respect of some food items like fruits, vegetables and milk".

After remaining in double-digits since February, the wholesale price-based inflation fell to single-digits at 9.97% in July, owing to decline in prices of certain food and non-food items.

Inflation was at 10.55% in June, while for May it was revised upwards to 11.14% from the provisional number of 10.16%. Inflation entered the double digits in February when it climbed to 10.06%, as per the final figures.

Inflation has become a political sensitive issue with the opposition raising the issue within and outside Parliament. Led by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), the opposition parties organised an all India strike on 5th July to protest against rising inflation and the hike in prices of petroleum products.


Vedanta to acquire up to 60% stake in Cairn India for $9.6 billion

New Delhi: London-listed mining firm Vedanta Resources will acquire a majority stake of up to 60% in Cairn India, the owner of nation's largest onland oilfield, for $9.6 billion, reports PTI.

Edinburgh-based Cairn Energy Plc, which holds 62.37% stake in Cairn India, will sell a maximum of 51% of its stake to Vedanta Group for $8.48 billion, the two companies said in separate statements.

Cairn Energy is selling the stake at Rs405 per share, a premium of about 32% to the Cairn India average closing price for 90 days prior to 14th August.

The price includes a Rs50 per share non-compete premium for Cairn Energy Plc not to enter into oil and gas business in India, Pakistan, Bhutan and Sri Lanka.

Vedanta will make an about $3 billion open offer to Cairn India shareholders at Rs355 per share for up to 20% additional stake.

If Vedanta is able to get offers for the entire 20% then Cairn Energy will restrict sale of its share to 40% (at $6.651 billion) but will scale up its share sale up to 51% if the issue is not fully subscribed.

Vedanta Resources Plc will acquire 31% to 40% interest in Cairn India while the remaining 20% would be taken by group firm Sesa Group.

For the zinc, copper and iron ore mining firm Vedanta, this will be maiden foray into the lucrative oil business by getting hold of Cairn India's Mangala oilfields in Rajasthan that are currently producing 125,000 barrels per day (bpd) and have potential to go up to 150,000 bpd.

Run by billionaire Anil Agarwal, 57, the group has already sought to expand into power generation.

Vedanta follows mining major BHP Billiton in adding oil assets. BHP had moved into oil and gas with its 2001 acquisition of Billiton Plc for $11.6 billion.

Vedanta's deal will be contingent on government approval, as Cairn's three producing oil and gas assets, including the giant Rajasthan fields and seven exploration blocks, either have explicit provisions for seeking prior approval before transfer of interest or gives pre-emption, or the right of first refusal (ROFR), to partners like Oil & Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC).

Cairn Energy Plc chief executive Bill Gammell said he was hopeful of government support for the deal.

The Production Sharing Contract (PSC) for the Rajasthan field is silent on government approval for transfer of ownership, but the Joint Operating Agreement between Cairn India and ONGC gives the partners ROFR in case of stake sale.

The same is the case with gas discovery block CB-OS-2 and the eastern offshore Ravva oil and gas fields. But its seven exploration blocks, including the KG-DWN-98/2 block with ONGC, have explicit provisions for government approval in case of a change in control.


The world’s biggest IPO

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