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Received financial bids for purchasing Air India; Tatas among suitors

NEW DELHI

The government on Wednesday, September 15, 2021, said it’s received multiple financial bids for purchasing national carrier Air India.

Meanwhile, a Tata Sons spokesperson told that it’s put during a bid for the airline.

“Financial bids for Air India disinvestment received by Transaction Adviser. Process now moves to conclude stage,” DIPAM Secretary Tuhin Kanta Pandey tweeted.

The government is seeking to sell 100 percent of its stake within the state-owned national airline, including Air India’s 100 per cent shareholding in AI Express Ltd and 50 per cent in Air India SATS Airport Services Private Ltd.

The stake sale process, which begun in January 2020, faced delays because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In April 2021, the govt asked potential bidders to place in financial bids.

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Wednesday (September 15) was the Last Day for fixing financial bids.

Tata Group was among the multiple entities that had put in an initial expression of interest (EoI) in December 2020 for purchasing the Maharaja.

With previous attempts since 2017 failing to urge any significant interest and after receiving feedback from potential investors, the govt had in October last year sweetened the EoI clause concerning the transfer of Air India’s debt to the new investor, giving bidders flexibility to make a decision on the quantum of humongous debt they need to soak up.

As per the Air India EoI floated by the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) in January 2020, of the airline’s total debt of Rs 60,074 crore as of March 31, 2019, the customer would be required to soak up Rs 23,286.5 crore.

The rest would be transferred to Air India Assets Holding Ltd (AIAHL), a special purpose vehicle.

Air India has been in losses ever since its merger with domestic operator Indian Airlines in 2007.

The airline, which was formed by the Tatas as a mailman in 1932, will give the successful bidder control of 4,400 domestic and 1,800 international landing and parking slots at domestic airports, also as 900 slots at airports overseas.

Besides, the bidder would 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.

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