MUMBAI: Public sector undertaking-BPCL plans to create an employees trust to transfer 2 per cent stake held in its investment trust and is likely to sell the balance 7.33 per cent stake through block deals on the bourses, the company’s management told reporters on Monday.

BPCL Trust for Investment owns around 9.33 per cent stake in the company, which it is required to sell as a pre-condition for the planned divestment of the company. The government is in the process of selling its entire stake in the country’s second-largest fuel retailer and third-largest refiner. The company’s management said that the divestment process is on track and reiterated the government stance that it will be completed before March 2021.

“Two percent out of the 9.33 per cent will be transferred to the ESPS (Employee Stock Purchase Scheme) Trust, which has been formed for the benefit of the employees. They will get the shares at a discount and the loss would be borne by the company,” N. Vijayagopal, director- finance, told reporters in a virtual press briefing.

He said that the rest of the 7.33 per cent stake may be sold in the stock market through block deals but the decision would be a part of the request for proposal, due October 15 if the initial expression of interest closes as per schedule on September 30.

“Out of our total operating cost, other than the crude oil cost, staff cost constitutes a significant portion. We wanted to see this as a cost centre and wanted to make a difference by right sizing of employees, and retain those who can adapt to new reality, technology and different culture under a private management,” Vijayagopal said.

The company has been able to reduce its staff count by 10 per cent and average employee age to around 45 from around 55 by offering a voluntary retirement scheme ahead of the privatisation of the company.

“Your company is at the threshold of a major transformation as it prepares for a definitive change in the ownership structure with the imminent disinvestment of the government of India’s stake in it. This is expected to unlock tremendous value through sharpening of professionalism, improvement in efficiencies, increased investments, access to advanced technologies and newer global markets and product diversification, thus propelling future growth,” Chairman K Padmakar told shareholders at the company’s annual general meeting earlier on Monday.

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