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Air India privatisation likely to conclude in next fiscal

The government is selling its entire 100 per cent stake in Air India. The national carrier has been in losses since its merger with domestic operator Indian Airlines in 2007

twitter-logoBusinessToday.In | December 20, 2020 | Updated 18:31 IST
Air India privatisation likely to conclude in next fiscal

State-owned carrier Air India is likely to conclude privatisation in the next fiscal as the divestment process may take a little over three months of 2020-21, said an official.

"The Transaction Advisor will inform the qualified bidders by January 6 following which the bidders will be given access to virtual data room (VDR) of Air India," said an official. The share purchase pact will be shared with the bidders, after which the financial bids would be made, he added.

The official added, "The transaction will be concluded only in next fiscal as we are expecting bidders to have a lot of queries once they get access to VDR and before they put in their financial bids."

Mumbai-headquartered Tata Group and US-based fund Interups Inc were among "multiple" entities that have shown interest in preliminary bids for buying the airline - which started as a mail carrier in 1932.

Additionally, a group of more than 200 Air India employees also submitted an expression of interest (EoI) for the loss-making carrier in partnership with Interups near the deadline on December 14.

The government is selling its entire 100 per cent stake in Air India. The national carrier has been in losses since its merger with domestic operator Indian Airlines in 2007.

The government has already extended five times the deadline to submit preliminary bids for Air India. The airline will give control of around 4,400 domestic and 1,800 international landing and parking slots at domestic airports, as well as 900 slots at airports overseas to the successful bidder.

The bidder would also gain 100 per cent of the carrier's low-cost arm Air India Express and 50 per cent of Air India SATS Airport Services (AISATS), which provides ground handling and cargo services at major domestic airports.

The government has sweetened the deal this time - as the previous attempts since 2017 failing to get any significant interest - by giving freedom to potential suitors to decide how much of the airline's debt they want to take as part of the transaction. Previously, the bidders were required to take the entire debt amount of Rs 60,074 crore.

The government, in current fiscal, has set a record Rs 2.10 lakh crore target from disinvestment, which includes Rs 1.20 lakh crore from the sale of shares of CPSEs and Rs 90,000 crore from a share sale in PSBs and financial institutions, including the listing of insurance behemoth LIC.

So far Rs 11,006 crore has been mopped up through minority stake sale in CPSEs in this fiscal.

(With inputs from PTI)

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