Air India sale: No bids received so far, but govt 'hopeful' of receiving 'good response' as deadline ends today

New Delhi: No bids have been received so far for stake in Air India, the government said on Wednesday even as it hoped of getting a good response on the last day of the formal bidding process on Thursday.

"We expect good response before bid closes tomorrow," Civil Aviation Secretary R N Choubey told PTI responding to a query.

He said no bids have been received for the stake sale so far. "We have not received any bids... We are quite hopeful that we will receive bids. Bids are normally received on the last day because bidders want to know who else is bidding," Choubey said.

The deadline for the expression of interest ends on Thursday and the request for proposal could be issued only after 15 June.

Choubey said they will not extend the deadline.

Asked about the steps to be taken after the completion of the deadline, he said, "The Alternative Mechanism will take a call on further action to be taken on Air India's disinvestment."

"We expect that it will take possibly two weeks to finalise the eligible bidders out of Expressions of Interest (EoIs) received. Thereafter, Request for Proposal (RFP) will be invited", Choubey told reporters.

On 23 May, Choubey had said the highest bidder for the airline would be known by August-end. But, the highest bidder might not be the successful bidder, he said, adding the government intends to complete the disinvestment by year-end.

Significantly, he had said the government could decide against selling state-run Air India (AI) if it does not get "adequate" price for it.

 Air India sale: No bids received so far, but govt hopeful of receiving good response as deadline ends today

Air India. Representational image. Reuters

"The government has the right to sell or not to sell Air India if the bid price is found to be inadequate," Choubey had told reporters.

"Though the transaction advisor (EY) will assess the enterprise value, the right price for the airline will be decided by us," he said.

Asked about AI employees' union protests against the proposed sale, he said they were conscious of the fact that airlines would do well after privatisation.

The government had on 28 March unveiled plans to sell up to a 76 percent stake in the loss-making carrier, and transfer the management control to private players.

The profitable Air India Express and the joint venture AISATS -- an equal joint venture between the national carrier and the Singapore-based SATS Ltd -- will also be a part of the disinvestment process.

The ailing airline's total debt stood at Rs 48,781 crore at the end of March 2017.

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Updated Date: May 31, 2018 10:42:26 IST