* Auction attracts bids for 156.9 mln shares vs 128.9 mln
* Not enough interest to take up option to sell another 5
* NALCO shares close 8.5 pct lower in weak market
(Adds final bid data, details)
MUMBAI, March 15 India raised $116 million by
selling shares in state-run National Aluminium Co Ltd (NALCO)
on Friday, taking the government closer to its
fundraising target to reduce the budget deficit.
The single-day NALCO auction received bids for a total of
156.94 million shares, at a weighted average price of 40.05
rupees, stock exchange data showed. The government's holding in
the company will come down to 81 percent.
New Delhi was selling 128.86 million shares or a 5 percent
stake, with an option to sell 5 percent more, at a minimum offer
price of 40 rupees a share.
The share sale is part of the government's divestment drive
to help restrict the fiscal deficit to 5.2 percent in the year
ending March 31, to avoid becoming the first of the BRIC
economies to have its credit rating downgraded.
Including the NALCO issue, the government has raised nearly
$4.1 billion through the sale of shares in state-owned companies
so far this fiscal year.
It expects to launch this month a 10.82 percent stake sale
in steelmaker Steel Authority of India Ltd that could
raise about $550 million, taking it close to its divestment
target of $4.4 billion for the fiscal year.
NALCO, India's third-largest producer of aluminium, operates
an alumina refinery, smelter plant and bauxite mines in the
mineral-rich eastern state of Odisha.
Shares in the company, valued at about $2 billion, ended
down 8.5 percent on Friday at 40.35 rupees, in a weak Mumbai
($1 = 54.31 rupees)
(Reporting by Prashant Mehra; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)