Our Bureau

New Delhi, Dec. 23

THE board of Oil & Natural Gas Corporation Ltd (ONGC) today declared an interim dividend of 250 per cent (Rs 25 per share) for 2005-06.

This was 50 per cent higher compared to the interim dividend of last fiscal (2004-05).

According to the company, in absolute terms, this interim dividend translates into a pay-out of Rs 3,564.82 crore (against a paid-up capital of Rs 1,425.93 crore). This interim dividend amount includes the Government of India share (74.13 per cent) of Rs 2,642.60 crore.

In addition, ONGC will be paying a dividend tax on the above, which works out to be Rs 500 crore, the company said.

The board has also decided to pay the dividend after the record date of December 28, without waiting for the mandatory 30 days period.

ONGC had declared an interim dividend of 200 per cent and a total dividend of 400 per cent amounting to Rs 5,704 crore for 2004-05. As the largest stakeholder the Government emerges as the biggest beneficiary of the dividend payment.

The institutional investors hold 10.90 per cent and others 14.97 per cent.

The net profit (PAT) for the half-year was Rs 7,457 crore as against Rs 5,692 crore for the corresponding period the previous year.

Speaking on the occasion, the Chairman and Managing Director of ONGC, Mr Subir Raha, said "notwithstanding the continuing uncertainty on impact of subsidies from ONGC to downstream marketing public sector undertakings, the board decided to positively respond to shareholders expectations in a regime of firm crude oil prices."

In its attempts to boost revenue and to cut the budget deficit, the Finance Ministry has been asking the profitable public sector enterprises, which are essentially commercial enterprises, to declare a minimum 20 per cent dividend to the Government, subject to the availability of disposable profits. In respect of oil, chemical and other infrastructure sectors this amount would be 30 per cent, the Ministry had said.

Besides, profit-making companies with large cash surpluses and without firm plans for reinvestment must declare special dividends, the Ministry had said.

The special and interim dividends are expected to help the Government generate around Rs 4,000 crore from the public sector companies during the current fiscal.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated December 24, 2005)
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