CIL workers may buy stake

New Delhi: Coal India employees, who were barred by their unions from buying shares during the mega-IPO last year, may after all get another opportunity.

The Coal Ministry now says it can still reconsider the offer to allot up to 2 per cent shares to the workers on a preferential basis.

The trade unions had boycotted the divestment of the government`s stake in Coal India Limited and had asked employees to abstain from participating in the issue.

The government had reserved 10 per cent of the total shares on sale for CIL employees and had offered a discount of 5 per cent to workers on the issue price of Rs 245 per share.

"If workers are ready, we can make allotment of up to 2 per cent shares to them on a preferential basis at the same price," Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal said in an interview.

He regretted that CIL`s employees could not benefit from the company`s mega-IPO due to trade unions` opposition to disinvestment.

The majority of the 3.98 lakh strong workforce did not bid for shares of the world`s largest coal producer when the government offloaded a 10 per cent stake in CIL in October, 2010, garnering a whopping Rs 15,200 crore.

Union leaders had called a strike on the first day of the share offer in October, 2010, and asked workers to abstain from bidding for it.

Out of the 63.16 crore shares on offer, 10 per cent of which were reserved for its employees, only 10 per cent of the reserved shares were bid for by employees as the trade unions were protesting the share sale and had advised workers to stay away from the public offer.

The small investors got good listing gains as they were allotted shares at Rs 232.75 a share after a discount of 5 per cent to the final issue price of Rs 245. However, the majority of the employees failed to cash in on the opportunity due to opposition from unions.

"Had the employees bought shares then, they could have been reaping rich dividends now," Jaiswal said regretting the opposition by the unions. "But if they agree, we can still consider it," he added.

A handful of employees who have the shares today have seen the price appreciate by about Rs 70 apiece from what they bought them for, as CIL`s shares are hovering at around Rs 300 per share at present.

CIL`s IPO was a grand success and Jaiswal earlier had termed Coal India as "Gold India."

The blockbuster issue was kicked-off after the Durga Puja festival and the world`s biggest coal producer made its debut on the stock exchanges on November 4 — a day before Diwali — joining the club of the top-five most valued companies by market cap.

The IPO got an overwhelming response from all investors and was oversubscribed 15.17 times, translating into total demand of Rs 2.3 lakh crore for the 63.16 crore shares on offer.