Monday, February 22, 2021

Ajay Singh keen on Air India? SpiceJet promoter shows interest in carrier

SpiceJet promoter Ajay Singh and two other investors are said to have shown interest in acquiring Air India. Singh is interested in buying 100 per cent in Air India in personal capacity. He is likely to be supported by investors, one of which is a foreign fund.

It is one of the multiple overtures the government has said it has received, as mentioned in a report in The Economic Times. A person in the know told the daily that if the airline goes to this group then it is unlikely that Singh would be the largest shareholder.

Singh co-founded SpiceJet in 2005 and then sold it to Kalanithi Maran in 2010. He returned in 2015 to turn around the ailing airline.

According to the daily Kolkata-based businessman Pawan Ruia has also expressed interest in bidding for the national carrier. Tata Group too has shown interest through its holding company Tata Sons and an employee consortium.

Tata Group has planned to bid for Air India with Singapore International Airlines but it fell through after SIA disagreed with the proposal.

Other investors have also shown interest but not all of them are serious parties and not all of them will qualify for the later stage, when they will be asked to submit their bids, people in the know told the daily.

Moreover, the government has also unofficially asked people to show interest for bidding as it wanted to avoid a repeat of 2018 when it failed to get a bid for 76 per cent stake. Following this, the government decided to sell 100 per cent of Air India and its low-cost international subsidiary AirIndia Express. The EoI deadline was extended multiple times because of the pandemic. Air India is under Rs 38,366 crore debt after the government moved the working capital debt to a state-owned special purpose vehicle.

22/02/21 Business Today

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