anil agarwal: Govt can earn more money by share sales, incremental profit if it corporatises its companies: Anil Agarwal

Group chairman Anil Agarwal on Thursday suggested that the government could make more money from the sale of shares and incremental gains if it corporatises its companies instead of privatizing them. The comments by Agarwal, who has acquired some central units through the disinvestment process in the past, assume significance as the government is falling short of its disinvestment targets.

Barring a few exceptions, successive governments have failed to meet budgetary privatization targets and the worst shortfall was in FY22 – when there was a massive budget of Rs 1.75 lakh crore from such income – as it lost its biggest asset to LIC. Failed to list. One IPO through and not even a quarter of the target was met.

The government has projected disinvestment receipts at Rs 65,000 crore for 2022-23, up from Rs 13,531 crore raised in the previous fiscal.

Why should the government not at least corporatise its listed companies instead of privatizing them? By incorporation of 200 listed CPSEs, it can earn a lot in one go and then continue earning more in annual profit. This has happened in many countries and we can follow, Agarwal said, and wondered why he has sold some of his key assets – and being best-case scenarios – to his own conglomerate.

Addressing the Times Group’s India Economic Conclave here, he said such a policy change can ensure that our national wealth does not go into foreign hands.

He said that our fund house has enough money to sell such a huge stake.

Aggarwal also said that it can also defend criticism that the government is selling, apart from blunting trade unions’ opposition to privatization, fear of job losses can be given to employees as stock options and such. Companies can be run by professional boards like L&T or HDFC Group.

If some of the world’s most successful and biggest companies can be run by men and women of Indian or Indian origin, why can’t the government allow its people to run their companies more efficiently, he wondered.

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