In A Rare, Indian Oil Corporation Acquires Mercator Petroleum for ₹148 Crores

In a rare takeover by a government undertaking under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) has acquired Mercator Petroleum for about Rs 148 crore. The company gave this information to the stock market. IOC reported that Mumbai bench of National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) approved IOC's solvency plan for acquisition of 100% stake in Mercator Petroleum Limited (MPL).

MPL has terrestrial oil and gas search blocks in the Gulf of Khambhat, Gujarati Block CB-ONN- 2005/9 was won by the company in 2008 in the 7th NELP BID. It is likely to have 4.55 crore barrels of oil reserves. The block is located about 60 kilometers from the Koyali refinery block of IOC.

The insolvency proceedings for Mercator Petroleum were initiated by Cayman Island-based oil services company Halliburton Offshore Services Inc. in August 2021 after Mercator defaulted on payment of Rs 2.87 crore. Notably, the laws of the Cayman Islands provide protection for the privacy of the investors. They are not obliged to disclose the information of directors, officers and shareholders. The islands' laws also not required to submit financial records. 

UTI Capital and Bank of Baroda are financial creditors of Mercator Petroleum, holding 41.2% and 58.8%, respectively. According to the approved plan, the Bank of Baroda would receive 60% of the upfront payment due to its superior security.

The resolution plan offers Rs 5.40 crore to operational creditors—vendors, workmen, employees and statutory dues—against their total admitted claims of Rs 73 crore.

Additionally, IOC will bear insolvency proceeding cost of Rs 8.7 crore.

IOC is the second PSU to have acquired a company in an solvency proceeding. In March this year, India's largest gas firm GAIL acquired insolvent private-sector chemical company JBF Petrochemicals for Rs 2,079 crore.

Mercator Petroleum Ltd. was a wholly-owned subsidiary of Mercator Ltd., which was the second largest private sector shipping company in India.

Incorporated in 1983 and based out of Mumbai, Mercator was once counted among the highest wealth creators in the Indian stock exchanges between 2000 -2010. It was only the second Indian company to list its Singapore subsidiary on the Singapore Stock Exchange in Singapore in 2007.

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