25% Equity of India’s Public Defense Firms Up for Sale

© REUTERS / Adnan AbidiIndia's Prime Minister Narendra Modi reads a joint statement with his British counterpart Theresa May (unseen) at Hyderabad House in New Delhi, India, November 7, 2016
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi reads a joint statement with his British counterpart Theresa May (unseen) at Hyderabad House in New Delhi, India, November 7, 2016 - Sputnik International
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The divestment is part of Narendra Modi Government's ambitious plan to enhance India’s defense manufacturing capability.

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New Delhi (Sputnik) — In an unprecedented move, the Indian Government has decided to divest up to 25% equity stake in four state-run defense companies. The government is looking to sell stakes in Mazagon Dock Ltd, Bharat Dynamics Ltd, Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers Ltd and Mishra Dhatu Nigam Ltd. It has invited proposals for the IPOs (Initial Public Offerings) on domestic stock market by 3 pm on August 18. The companies are mainly specialise in ship building and missile manufacturing.

The Narendra Modi-led government had given its initial nod to the proposal for divestment of four out of nine government-owned defense firms in April this year.

This divestment is being considered as the first step towards privatization of these companies to augment the defense manufacturing capability to achieve defense exports worth $2 billion and absorb work orders for $15 billion in offsets for foreign defense imports.

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“Divestment will infuse greater professionalism and transparency in the functioning of these PSUs (public sector undertakings), plagued by issues concerning quality and productivity,” says Amit Cowshis, former financial advisor to Ministry of Defense.

Until now, most of India’s defense companies were mainly engaged in assembling imported parts for which the government had to cough up large amounts of foreign exchange – almost one third of total sales. According to an estimate, state owned defense firms imported parts, components and raw materials worth to $12 billion in last five years from international market.

Currently, India has 39 ordnance factories, 9 defense public sector firms; and more than 150 companies in the private sector. Despite such a huge number of defense firms, India continues to import more than 65% of its defense requirements.

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