Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Air India sale to close by September, govt starts inviting financial bids

The government has commenced the process of inviting financial bids for the sale of Air India, with the deal expected to be completed by September this year.

Tata Group was among several companies that had put in initial bids to buy the loss-making national carrier in December last year.

After assessing the preliminary bids, eligible bidders were allowed access to the Virtual Data Room (VDR) of Air India, after which investors' queries were answered, sources told PTI, adding that the transaction has now moved to the financial bidding stage and that the deal is likely to be completed by September this year.

The government is selling its entire 100 per cent stake in Air India, which has been in losses ever since its merger with domestic operator Indian Airlines in 2007.

The stake sale process got delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the government had extended five times the deadline to submit preliminary bids for the national carrier.

The airline, which started as a mail carrier in 1932, will give a successful bidder control of 4,400 domestic and 1,800 international landing and parking slots at domestic airports, as well as 900 slots at airports overseas.

Besides, the bidder would also get 100 per cent of the low-cost arm Air India Express and 50 per cent of AISATS, which provides cargo and ground handling services at major Indian airports.

Previously, the bidders were required to take over the entire Rs 60,074 crore debt.

Last month, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said the government will keep Air India running till it gets divested and there is no choice but to either "privatise or close" the debt-laden airline.

13/04/21 Business Today

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