(Adds details on size of stakes sales, background, comment)
NEW DELHI, Sept 14 (Reuters) - India's cabinet approved
stake sales in four state companies on Friday, restarting a
stalled divestment programme as part of a broader push to revive
a reform agenda aimed at kick-starting economic growth and
shoring up public finances.
The cabinet approved the sale of 9.5 percent in Hindustan
Copper Ltd, 12.15 percent in National Aluminium Co Ltd
, 9.33 percent in trading firm MMTC Ltd and
10 percent in explorer Oil India Ltd, minister of
trade and industry Anand Sharma told reporters.
At current market prices, the stake sales would raise about
$2.6 billion for the government.
New Delhi aims to raise 300 billion rupees ($5.5 billion)
through share sales in state-run companies in the current fiscal
year that ends next March, but has thus far drawn a blank as
weak market conditions have deterred public issues or auctions.
The government has already approved a share sale in Steel
Authority of India Ltd and an initial public offering
in steelmaker Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Ltd, which together were
expected to fetch close to $1 billion, but the offers have not
Market sentiment has picked up over the past couple of
months, however. India's benchmark share index has
rallied more than 19 percent so far in 2012, compared with a
12.6 percent gain in the MSCI Asia-Pacific index excluding
Japan., with most of the gains since June.
"We are seeing a pronounced rally and this is quite nicely
programmed," said Saurabh Mukherjea, head of equities at Ambit
Capital. "My sense is we would see the divestments go through,
but they should hope to get through as much as they can between
now and Christmas."
Indian companies raised $7.1 billion from share offerings in
the first half of this year, down 4 percent from the same period
in 2011, according to Thomson Reuters data.
(Reporting by Nigam Prusty and Prashant Mehra; Editing by Alex