Mining conglomerate Vedanta has put in a preliminary expression of interest (EoI) for buying the government’s stake in Bharat Petroleum Corp. Ltd. (BPCL), for which a major foreign player too is said to be in race.

A special purpose vehicle floated by the BSE-listed Vedanta Ltd. and its London-based parent Vedanta Resources submitted an EoI before the close of deadline on November 16.

“Vedanta’s EoI for BPCL is to evaluate potential synergies with our existing oil and gas business,” the company said in a statement. “The EoI is at a preliminary stage and exploratory in nature.”

Sources in the department handling the sale said that a major foreign player was among the 3-4 entities whose EoIs were received by the close of the bidding on November 16. The other potential investors are foreign funds but their identity was not immediately disclosed.

The government is selling its entire 52.98% stake in India’s second-largest fuel retailer as part of plans to raise a record ₹2.1 lakh crore from disinvestment proceeds in 2020-21. But, the BPCL share price has plunged by close to a fourth since the strategic sale was approved in November last year.

At Wednesday’s closing price of ₹383.20 on the BSE, the government’s stake in BPCL is worth just over ₹44,000 crore. Also, the acquirer would have to make an open offer for buying another 26% from the public, which would cost about ₹21,600 crore.

Vedanta’s interest in BPCL stems from its $8.67 billion acquisition of oil producer Cairn India about a decade ago. The company produces oil from oilfields in Rajasthan.

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