The government will slow down the privatization of CEL after the unions go to court

The government will slow down the privatization of CEL after the unions go to court

The government has required to be hold the privatization of Central Electronics Ltd (CEL) after the workers union moved toward the court against the sale of the company to a generally secret firm, a top official said Wednesday. Allegations of under-valuation in the Rs 210 crore most elevated bid made by the city-based Nandal Finance and Leasing are being inspected, said Tuhin Kanta Pandey, Secretary in the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM), which is running the privatization interaction.

The government had in November approved the sale of CEL, under the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR), to Nandal Finance & Leasing for Rs 210 crore. The transaction was scheduled to be completed by March 2022.

The letter of intent (LoI) for sale of 100 per cent government shareholding in CEL to Nandal Finance & Le­asing has not been issued, as the allegations are being examined, Pandey told PTI.

Following this, the CEL employee association approached the Delhi High Court against the privatisation, and Opposition Congress also alleged that the company is being undervalued.

“We have kept the LoI on hold since it is a subjudice matter and allegations of employees association are under examination,” he added.

Pandey said the inter-ministerial group on disinvestment is examining the allegations.

He said the book value of CEL is Rs 108 crore and turnover is around Rs 200 crore.

“How can a company with a book value of Rs 108 crore have a valuation of Rs 1,000 crore? Some year, it (CEL) earned Rs 20-crore profit, in some, it earned Rs 1-crore profit,” Pandey said, referring to allegations of under-valuation.

He said the CEL’s valuation has been done by the transaction advisor and asset valuer, following which the government arrived at the reserve price of Rs 194 crore for the company. “The net asset value of the company is actually less than Rs 194 crore, if we take the liabilities into account. The land lease is for 90 years, of which 46 years are already gone,” he said.

The Congress has claimed that the valuation of the CEL, using different methods, was between Rs 957 crore and Rs 1,600 crore. Incorporated in 1974, CEL, under the Ministry of Science and Technology, is a pioneer in the field of Solar Photovoltaic (SPV), and it has developed the technology with its own R&D efforts. It has also developed axle counter systems that are being used in railway signalling systems for the safe running of trains.

The government had issued a request for Expressions of Interest (EOI) on February 3, 2020, for CEL sale, following which three preliminary bids were received. Later, two companies — Nandal Finance and Leasing and JPM Industries — put in financial bids on October 12, 2021. While Nandal Finance and Leasing bid for Rs 210 crore, JPM Industries Ltd bid stood at Rs 190 crore. The bid by Nandal Finance was higher than the ‘reserve price’ of Rs 194 crore set by the government based on the valuations by the transaction adviser and asset valuer.

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