A $2.1 billion share auction in state-run power utility NTPC Ltd was fully covered on Thursday, taking the government closer to its target of raising money through stake sales in state enterprises to lower its fiscal deficit.
By 3:30 p.m., the single-day auction had received bids for 1,328.46 million shares at an indicative weighted average price of 145.91 rupees per share, provisional data from the National Stock Exchange showed. Final bid numbers will be released later on Thursday.
The government was selling 783.26 million shares, or 9.5 percent of the company's stock, at a minimum price of 145 rupees per share for bids. Before the offer, it held 84.5 percent of the company.
The NTPC offer follows a $585 million share sale in state explorer Oil India Ltd last week and another $1.1 billion in state miner NMDC last December.
Selling shares in state companies is a key element of the government's plan to bring down its fiscal deficit to 5.3 percent of gross domestic product by the end of March, from 5.8 percent in 2011/12, to avoid a credit downgrade from global ratings agencies.
New Delhi aims to raise a total of $5.1 billion through stake sales in the current fiscal year ending March. The government has raised nearly $4 billion, and wants to sell shares in at least four more state companies by March-end.
NTPC is India's largest power generation company with capacity of nearly 40,000 megawatts. It aims to more than treble generation capacity by 2032.
Shares in the company closed 2.5 percent lower at 148.05 rupees, but still at a premium to the indicative offer price.