Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Tata Sons likely to bid for Air India through Vistara, in talks with SIA for non-compete clause waiver

New Delhi: Finally, the debt-laden Air India sale is showing signs of taking off. The Tata Group, which has submitted an expression of interest (EoI) for Air India, is reportedly in serious discussion with Singapore Airlines (SIA), its joint venture partner in Vistara, as the $113 billion (about Rs 8.34 lakh crore) salt-to-software conglomerate is all set to decide options for the entity that will submit a bid for the ailing national carrier soon.

Tata Sons, the group’s holding company, a consortium of employees, along with a Delhi-based business house, have submitted EoIs to acquire 100 per cent stake in the debt-laden carrier and its subsidiary Air India Express. It is worth noting that the Centre had in January this year invited bids to sell 100 per cent of its holding in Air India and its international arm Air India Express and 50 per cent in ground handling joint venture Air India SATS Airport Services.

Tata Sons chairman N Chandrasekaran has been holding negotiations on the matter with the Singaporean company’s management, people familiar with the matter told ET. Malaysia's AirAsia Group Bhd, Tata Sons’ partner in the budget airline AirAsia India is believed to have released the Mumbai-based conglomerate from a no-compete clause, allowing it to bid for an airline in the budget space. It is worth noting that the Air India bid also includes Air India Express, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Air India.

The Tata Group wants to bid for the cash-strapped national carrier through Vistara, and talks are underway with SIA to work around their separate non-compete condition in the full-service airline space, the financial daily mentioned.

“The bid through Vistara is sensible, given the operational synergies. It is a business that needs to keep all costs on a tight leash. A separate business structure will prove to be too expensive for the group,” a group director told the publication on condition of anonymity.


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