Air India sale: Government offers 100% stake sale in national carrier

Darnell Taylor
January 27, 2020

A document inviting expressions of interest said India would sell a 100% stake in the carrier, its entire stake in low-priced worldwide arm Air India Express, and its complete 50% share of ground handling subsidiary AISATS. Interested parties will have to submit the expression of interest (EoI) before March 17. As a result of the 100 per cent stake sale, management control of the airline would also be transferred to the successful bidder.

According to the document, debt of Rs 23,286.5 crore would remain with Air India and Air India Express at the time of closing of the disinvestment. He also said that the government carrier Air India will continue flying and its operations will also expand.

Modi's government has high hopes that foreign investors will participate in the Air India bidding.

India's Tata Group, Singapore Airlines (SIA) and IndiGo were all linked to a takeover but subsequently ruled themselves out. The minimum shareholding in a consortium has also been eased to 10 percent, potentially enabling more entities to bid as part of a consortium.

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Any private limited company, public limited company, limited liability partnership or body corporate is eligible to invest in the state-owned airline provided such parties obtain applicable statutory approvals.

Civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Monday said Air India along with Air India Express is a "great asset", as the government came out with preliminary bid document for disinvestment of the national carrier.

The news agency Press Trust of India reported that various Air India employee unions will meet on Monday to discuss the proposed privatization plan. Bidding can be done either privately or through a consortium. While, the government would retain 24 per cent stake in the national carrier, the winning bidder would be required to stay invested in the airline for at least three years.

The national carrier, which has a debt burden of more than Rs 50,000 crore, has been making loss for long and as part of revival efforts.

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