Air India stake sale: Govt may extend deadline for submitting bids for debt-laden national carrier

  • The government is likely to extend the 17 March deadline for submitting bids to buy 100 percent stake in Air India and the Home Minister led inter-ministerial panel will later this week decide on the new date

  • The government has already extended the deadline for bidders to raise queries on the proposed strategic sale of Air India to 6 March from 11 February

  • The government on 27 January issued the Preliminary Information Memorandum (PIM) inviting EoI for sale of 100 percent stake in Air India

New Delhi: The government is likely to extend the 17 March deadline for submitting bids to buy 100 percent stake in Air India and the Home Minister led inter-ministerial panel will later this week decide on the new date.

Interested bidders can now have access to the "virtual data room" of Air India, officials said adding that more queries are expected to come in, which would be clarified by the Transaction Advisor and the Ministry of Civil Aviation.

The government has already extended the deadline for bidders to raise queries on the proposed strategic sale of Air India to 6 March from 11 February.

Officials told PTI that the ministerial panel on Air India would meet later this week and decide on the new date for submission of Expression of Interest (EoI) by interested bidders.

 Air India stake sale: Govt may extend deadline for submitting bids for debt-laden national carrier

File image of Air India aircraft. News18

The interested bidders can now get access to the virtual data room, which would also have the draft share purchase agreement (SPA), by paying a non-refundable fees of Rs 1 crore.

The ministerial panel - Air India Specific Alternative Mechanism (AISAM)- is headed by Home Minister Amit Shah and comprises Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Commerce and Railway Minister Piyush Goyal and Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri as other members.

The government on 27 January issued the Preliminary Information Memorandum (PIM) inviting EoI for sale of 100 percent stake in Air India. On 21 February, it issued the first set of clarification answering queries regarding the 'confidentiality undertaking'.

The Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM), which is overseeing the strategic sale of Air India, clarified that bidders will have the flexibility to change the structure of the consortium from the time of signing of non-disclosure pact for access to data room till submission of EoI.

It also clarified that a bidder and its affiliate are not allowed to put in bids separately and can only submit EoI as a consortium.

The government last month restarted the divestment process of Air India and invited bids for selling 100 percent of its equity in the state-owned airline, including Air India's 100 percent shareholding in AI Express and 50 percent in Air India SATS Airport Services Private Ltd.

Interested bidders for Air India should have a net worth of Rs 3,500 crore.

After its unsuccessful bid to sell Air India in 2018, the government this time has decided to offload its entire stake. In 2018, the government had offered to sell its 76 percent stake in the airline.

Of the total debt of Rs 60,074 crore as on 31 March, 2019, the buyer would be required to absorb Rs 23,286.5 crore, while the rest would be transferred to Air India Assets Holding Ltd (AIAHL), the special purpose vehicle.

As a precursor to Air India sale, the Cabinet in February 2019 approved setting up AIAHL to transfer Rs 29,464 crore worth loans of the national carrier and its four subsidiaries-- Air India Air Transport Services (AIATSL), Airline Allied Services (AASL), Air India Engineering Services Ltd (AIESL) and Hotel Corporation of India (HCI).

Also non-core assets - painting and artifacts - as well as other non-operational assets of the national carrier too will be transferred to the SPV.

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Updated Date: Feb 25, 2020 19:27:11 IST