India raises $3bn selling state coal company shares

MUMBAI – India's government has raised an expected $3.5 billion by beginning the privatization of India's state-owned coal company on Friday. 

The complete allocation of shares were sold out and, according to data from the Bombay stock exchange, the bidding was over subscribed 30 million bids more than the available 630 million available shares. 

The six-hour long bidding for 10 percent of shares in Coal India, which produces 80 percent of India's coal, was the biggest in India's history. 

The sale was part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government's plans to open up the state monopoly over coal production to private companies, using the funds raised to narrow the fiscal deficit. 

The privatization plans sparked the largest coal miners' strike in 30 years when more than half a million workers laid down their tools for two days in early January. 

India is the world’s third largest coal importer but still struggles to meet the growing gap between demand and supply. The privatization is intended to streamline the company’s operation.

Friday’s sale is part of the government’s plan to gradually cut down the role of the state. 

In 2014, the government raised $276 million by selling its stake in numerous small public sector undertakings.

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