Government shares sell-off boosts capital markets activity
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Government shares sell-off boosts capital markets activity

India's bond and equity markets spurted into action last month as the government announced over $3 billion-worth of sales of shares in six companies. Indian companies and banks will also tap the market for another $2 billion, about half of which will be foreign currency debt. In addition, the Asian Development Bank closed a $110 million rupee bond, the first local currency bond by a multilateral bank.

The government's sale includes offerings of residual holdings in privatized companies Indian Petrochemical Corporation (IPCL), Computer Maintenance Corporation (CMC), and Indo-Burmah Petroleum (IBP).

Minority stakes in three other companies are on offer – 10% each in Oil and Natural Gas (ONGC) and Gas Authority of India (GAIL) and 20% in Dredging Corporation. The ONGC sale is India's largest equity offering to date, estimated at $2.2 billion.

Elections are due in April and the government hopes to leave office with a tidier balance sheet and to earn a political dividend from middle class voters. The shares are on sale in the local market and small investors can buy them at a 5% discount.

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