Thorat, Ramanathan favourites for ONGC board

Usha Thorat, former RBI Deputy Governor and former Finance Secretary Arun Ramanathan are likely to be appointed by the government to the board of ONGC to pave the way for the share of the state-owned firm by July. Besides Thorat and Ramanathan, Deepak Nayyar, ex-vice chancellor of Delhi University, has also been shortlisted for appointment as independent directors on the board of ONGC, which currently does not meet market regulator SEBI's listing requirement. An official revealed that the three names will be sent to a Search Committee, which will screen the names before they are sent to the Cabinet Committee on Appointments for approval. “The whole process may take at least a month,” he said, adding ONGC will file papers for the follow-on public offer once its meets the SEBI requirement of having an equal number of executive and non-executive or independent directors on its board. The government plans to sell 5 per cent, or 427.77 million equity shares, through the FPO to raise up to Rs 12,000 crore. The FPO was to hit the market in March, but was deferred. “The timing of FPO will depend on how aggressively the Department of Disinvestment (DoD) pushes for it. It may happen in June or July,” the official said. ONGC does not meet SEBI's listing norm of having an equal number of functional and independent directors and the government had previously planned to withdraw both its nominee directors on the board to push the FPO through. But the move would have led to ONGC losing its coveted Navaratna status, which gives the company board autonomy to approve an investment of any size on its projects and powers to invest up to Rs 1,000 crore in a joint venture company.

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