Friday, January 29, 2021

SIA allows Tata Sons to go ahead with solo bid for Air India, waives no-compete clause

New Delhi: Singapore Airlines (SIA), with which Tata Sons operates full-service airline Vistara, has reportedly waived off a non-compete clause, and is unlikely to partner with the holding company of the $113-billion (around Rs 8.34 lakh crore) coffee-to-cars conglomerate to bid for the beleaguered national carrier Air India.

In December, the Mumbai-based conglomerate had submitted an expression of interest (EoI) for the embattled airline. The no-compete clause was a hindrance to Tata Sons' solo bid for Air India.  Worth mentioning here is that the Centre in January 2020 had 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.

It has been reported that Tata had started the discussion with SIA to abandon a non-compete clause and join it in a bid for the troubled airline. The main reason for SIA’s hesitancy is said to have been the long-term funding that the debt-laden carrier will need to run operations, people with knowledge of the matter told ET. 

Tata Sons can’t bid without SIA’s nod and its waiver of the no-compete clause. Tata could opt for solo bid or go through its AirAsia India unit, in which it has been raising its stake, lowering that of joint venture partner AirAsia Bhd. Although there are some legal issues regarding the Tata Group using AirAsia India as the vehicle to buy Air India, the group can work around them, the financial daily mentioned citing executives.


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