New Delhi:  Amid volatility in the stock markets, the Centre on Friday refused to give a timeframe for the much-delayed share sale of state-run SAIL, while expressing hope that the FPO of the Maharatna Company would happen in the current fiscal.

"It has to be at the appropriate time when the stock market is in good condition. Right now, the stock market is going up and down... We still intend to go through with the (FPO) issue this financial year," Steel Secretary PK Misra told reporters here on the sidelines of a CII conference.

The FPO of Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL), in which the Government holds a stake of a little over 85 percent, has failed to meet deadlines repeatedly since December last year due to several reasons, like rising coking coal prices and problems with merchant bankers, besides the adverse market conditions.

Shares of the Company have plunged by over 43 per cent since the beginning of this year, according to data available on the Bombay Stock Exchange.

The Company's scrips were trading at Rs 104.25 apiece on BSE at 1320 hours, down 2.52 per cent.

In July, Steel Minister Beni Prasad Verma had said the follow-on-public offer (FPO) of the state-run steel giant may take place around Diwali.
Through the share sale, the Government will divest a 5 percent stake in SAIL, while the Company will issue fresh equity in the same proportion under the FPO.

Higher coking coal prices had resulted in an over 28 per cent decline in net profits of the Company for the April-June quarter to Rs 838.06 crore.
For the full year, its net profit declined by 29 per cent to Rs 4,914.29 crore vis-a-vis the year-ago period. Coking coal prices had an adverse impact of Rs 3,015 crore on the profits of the Company for the year as a whole.

The Government's disinvestment target for the previous fiscal also got hit due to the delay in SAIL's share sale. It could only raise over Rs 22,000 crore against a target of mopping up Rs 40,000 crore through divestment in state-owned firms.

Adverse market conditions have also played spoilsport for the government, as so far, it has only managed to mop up around Rs 1,100 crore this fiscal from the sale of 5 per cent equity in Power Finance Corporation, which was the first follow-on public offer of a PSU in the current fiscal.

(Agencies)