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SCI employees to seek shares at a discount

Our Bureau

Mumbai , Nov. 17

EMPLOYEES of Shipping Corporation will seek allotment of shares at a discounted price, when the company goes for its second round of sale of shares to public.

If this is not granted by the Government, the officers will oppose the disinvestments, said a union official.

Reacting to the Shipping Minister's announcement on Thursday of the 15 per cent disinvestment in SCI and allocation of 10 per cent of the disinvested shares to employees of the company, the SCI Officers' Association said for the employees, the real benefit would depend on the quantum of discount offered by the Government .

Mr M. Wagle, general secretary of the Association, said it would negotiate with the Government on the quantum of discount and if "it did not meet our expectations we will be opposing this move."

He pointed out that in other Government-owned companies, similar disinvestment moves saw their respective employees getting shares of their companies at nearly one-third the prevailing market value. On the disinvestment move, he said the association would not oppose it, as long as the company remained in Government control.

`Backdoor attempt at privatisation': Another section of the employees is, however, totally opposed to the move. The SCI Staff Union feels that the move was a "backdoor attempt" towards privatisation. Said Mr Kiran B. Pulekar, general secretary of the union: "After the lock-in period, employees will certainly sell their shares and this would lead towards privatisation. We do not think this is a good move at all."

SCI's total employee strength is about 3,600, including some 2,500 permanent officers on board ships.

Some officers at the higher levels were, however, happy over the move. As one officer pointed out, the disinvestment would increase the amount of floating stock, which, in turn, would help unlock the share value. At the moment, the floating stock of the company is too little, which has been reining in on the share prices, it is felt.

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