Gautam Adani-led Adani Group may enter the race to buy state-owned Air India. Tata group, Hinduja group, Indigo and a New York-based fund, Interups, are already in line to buy the debt-ridden national carrier. Adani's energy and infrastructure conglomerate is planning on submitting an expression of interest (EoI) next month but the final decision will likely come after the EoI process gets over and bidders get to access the data online.
The Adani group plans to become the largest private airport operator in the country. It had bid successfully to run six airports last year. While Lucknow, Mangalore and Ahmedabad airports are operated by Adani, the company is waiting the government's nod to operate Jaipur, Guwahati and Thiruvananthapuram.
However, as per the rules, if Adadni places bids for Air India, his company can't own over 27 per cent stake in these six airports. Meanwhile, the last date to raise additional queries regarding Air India disinvestment has been extended till March 6. Interested bidders will now be able to seek clarifications on government selling its 100 per cent stake in the national carrier.
Government had issued the first set of clarifications for Air India bidders on the 'confidentiality undertaking' listed out in the Preliminary Information Memorandum (PIM) issued on January 27.
After a failed attempt to sell Air India in 2018, government renewed its efforts to in January this year. This time, it has decided to offload its entire stake in the debt-laden airline. The stake sale includes Air India's 100 per cent shareholding in AI Express Limited and 50 per cent in Air India SATS Airport Services Private Ltd, Air India's ground services arm.
The government has asked interested bidders with net worth of RS 3,500 crore or more to submit their bids for Air India till March 17. Of the total debt of Rs 60,074 crore as of March 31, 2019, the buyer would be required to absorb Rs 23,286.5 crore, while the rest would be transferred to Air India Assets Holding Ltd (AIAHL), the special purpose vehicle (SPV).