No reason to hold minority stake in Hindustan Zinc, says Piyush Goyal

New Delhi : The government has no “strategic interest” in holding a minority 29.54 per cent stake in Hindustan Zinc Ltd (HZL), according to Mines Minister Piyush Goyal.

“My approach is that we have no role in it and I don’t see any role for us to keep that minor stake,” Piyush Goyal told PTI.

In 2002, the government sold 26 per cent stake in HZL for Rs 445 crore to billionaire Anil Agarwal-led Vedanta.

The firm also acquired 20 per cent stake from the public. In 2003, it again acquired additional 18.92 per cent in exercise of call option clause in shareholders’ agreement between the government and the firm.

Now, the government owns 29.54 per cent share in HZL.

The Minister said: “HZL is majority-owned by the private sector. Once majority ownership has been given out, there is no strategic interest of the government to be in that company.”

He further said that “we have seen the progress of these companies, which were disinvested and most of them have flourished, once they were given majority stake. So I think there is no real reason for the government to continue to hold a minority stake.”

The Minister’s view has come as a shot in the arm for Agarwal, who has been trying for quite sometime to acquire the residual stake in HZL.

In March this year, Agarwal, Chairman, Vedanta Resources, had told PTI that stake sale of the government’s remaining share in HZL and aluminium maker Balco can fetch it Rs 25,000 crore.

On the Supreme Court’s order related to HZL, Goyal, who also holds the charge of Ministry of Power, Coal and Renewable Energy, said: “Whatever is the necessary legal and other requirements, we will fulfill them. Of course, the final decision will be of the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM).”

The Supreme Court order in February this year questioned the government’s move towards showing “hurry” in selling its share in HZL, which deals with “strategic minerals”.

The apex court also restrained the government from going ahead with any further disinvestment of its stake in the firm.