Friday, December 11, 2020

Last date for Air India divestment plan nears — reports suggest that Tata, Adani and Hinduja Group are interested

Air India’s privatisation plan is entering its final lap. The government of India has extended the intimation date for qualified interested bidders (QIBs) for Air India to January 5, from the earlier decided date of December 29.

The intimation date is the deadline for announcing the name of those shortlisted bidders.

However, in an aggressive push to off-load its stake in the national carrier, the deadline for submitting the EoIs (Expressions of Interest) has not been extended and is set for December 14. This was the fifth time the government had extended the deadline after receiving a subdued response for Air India’s divestment plans.

After submitting the EoIs, the bidders will be required to submit the physical bids within 15 days— i.e., by December 29.

The name of the shortlisted bidders will be announced later by the government. But there are many suitors in the fray. Reports suggest that the top corporates like Tata Group, Adani Group, Hinduja Group, and many others are weighing bids for the debt-ridden airline.

The Tata Group also had reportedly started negotiations with Singapore Airlines (SIA), its joint venture partner in Vistara, to abandon a non-compete clause and join it in a proposed bid for the national carrier.

Earlier this year, reports indicated that with nearly half a dozen airports in his kitty, Gautam Adani-led Adani Group was eyeing to enter the race to buy the airline. However, there has been no official announcement from the company yet.

The Hinduja group also tied up with Lufthansa to become a potential bidder in the privatisation of Air India. And, a group of 209 employees of Air India were on the hunt for a private investor to back their bid for the national carrier. However, Air India's pilots' unions have advised their members not to take part in the employees' bid to take over the airline via the divestment process.

11/12/20 Navdeep Yadav/Business Insider

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