India's largest natural gas marketer Gail (India) Limited (GAIL), formerly known as Gas Authority of India Limited has sought shareholder approval to amend the company's charter to invest in startups in core business areas and non-core areas (like health, social and environment, safety, and security) either directly or indirectly.

Besides investing in startups, GAIL also sought approval to build solar power plants and set up battery charging stations for electric vehicles (EV) as it looks to diversify its portfolio beyond gas and petrochemicals, reported Live Mint.

With these amendments, GAIL intends to insert six new sections in the main objects clause of the memorandum of association of the company, says its shareholder notice.

To recall, last year in July GAIL had already created a corpus of ₹50 Crores to be invested in startups under its startup initiative ‘Pankh’, which aims to support the Government of India (GoI) Start-Up initiative, and to generate long term commercial benefits. Back then, GAIL announced that it received 47 investment proposals selected 10 startups for investment. The second round of its solicitation process opened in time slot of June 1, 2018 to June 20, 2018, according to GAIL website.

Last November, Gurugram based food-tech startup Hungry Foal secured funding in Pre-Series A from GAIL (India) Ltd under GAIL’s startup initiative ‘Pankh’.

According to GAIL's latest shareholder notice, the company now wants to invest in “start-ups in core business areas (of natural gas, petrochemicals, and energy) and non-core areas (like health, social and environment, safety, and security) either directly or indirectly”.

“The investment can be made through special purpose vehicle (SPV), alternative investment fund (AIF), fund of funds (FoF) and trust," it added.

GAIL feels that there is a high time to adopt new and different pathways to provide clean, cost-effective and efficient mobility services that are safe, reduce dependence on oil imports and achieve more efficient land-use in cities with the least environmental footprints and impacts on human health. With these objective in mind, the firm wants to set up “battery charging stations and providing charging services” to electric vehicles.

With the government planning to make a major shift to electric vehicles by 2030, GAIL felt that charging infrastructure for electric vehicles in India has not been fully developed yet.

It may be recalled that besides GAIL, several other oil-based PSUs have had also announced startup funds in year 2016.

Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) had launched a Rs 30 crore start-up scheme (IndS_UP) to promote promising start-ups and nurture an ecosystem conducive for innovations in the domestic hydrocarbons sector, in October 2016. In the same yeae, ONGC too launched a Rs 100 crore Start-up fund, in August 2016, followed by INR 50 crore OIL startup fund announced by Assam state-run Oil Industries Ltd (OIL), in October 2016.

Speaking about EV charging infrastructure, recently in May this year, PowerGrid Corporation of India and Hyderabad Metro Rail have joined hands to provide EV charging facility at metro stations in Hyderabad, which will have vehicle-to-grid (V2G) concept that allows electric vehicles to help in stabilization of the grid.

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