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Friday, Dec 20, 2002

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Orissa extends bid date for sugar mills

Ambar Singh Roy

Recently in Bhubaneswar

THE last date for putting in bids for the purchase of two State-owned sugar mills put up for sale by the Orissa Government has been extended to December 31 even as enquiries for their purchase are coming in. .

The sale of these mills will kickstart the disinvestment programme in Orissa where the State Government is slated to divest its equity stake in 29 State-owned public sector enterprises within the next three years. The advertisement inviting "separate or combined bids for the purchase of the assets and business" of the two mills was placed in the last week of October.

Each of the sugar mills — established in 1989 in the co-operative sector — has a crushing capacity of 1,250 tonnes per day. While one is located in Nayagarh, 80 km from Bhubaneswar, the other is located at Baramba, 120 km from the State capital.

Speaking to Business Line, Orissa's Minister of State for Finance, Mr Panchanan Kanungo, confirmed that about half-a-dozen enquiries had been received but declined to divulge the names of the interested parties for "strategic reasons".

Earlier, the Minister in-charge-of Disinvestment, Mr K.V. Singh Deo, personally wrote to top sugar manufacturers in India, informing them about the privatisation initiatives in the sugar sector.

The mill at Nayagarh has been closed since the 1998-99 crushing season while the one at Baramba is operational, albeit at 30 per cent capacity utilisation, under a management contract with a private sector sugar producer.

According to informed sources, the mills are being sold on the condition that they would be operated as sugar mills. The information memorandum stipulates that the track record and the future business plans of the prospective bidders will weigh heavily in the process of selection of the final bidder.

A set of streamlined procedures pertaining to the transaction process was accepted by the State Cabinet at a meeting on November 14.

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