Tata Sons Chairman N Chandrasekaran said on Wednesday it is "too early" to take a call on Air India, in which the government has decided to sell its entire 100 percent stake
"It is too early..." Chandrasekaran told PTI when asked if Tata Group would be putting a bid for Air India stake purchase at the Auto Expo in New Deli.
The comments came in the wake of reports in a section of media saying that Tatas appear to be moving closer to a decision to bid for Air India in partnership with Singapore Airlines.
The Tata group has already started working on the structure for such buyout, including a merger of AirAsia India, in which they hold 51 percent in Air India Express, a 100 percent subsidiary of the government-owned national carrier.
The Central government last month issued a preliminary information memorandum (PIM), initiating the process to divest its entire stake in the national air carrier.
Earlier this week, there were news reports that the Tata Group may be ‘moving closer’ to partner with Singapore Airlines to make an offer for Air India.
A deal structure is said to be in the works and the Tata Group is likely to merge Air India Express with AirAsia India, the report in The Times of India said.
Tata Sons and Singapore Airlines own full-service airline Vistara as a joint venture (JV). Tata Sons owns a 51 percent stake in AirAsia India while Malaysia-based AirAsia Berhad owns the remaining holding.
The government opened the formal bidding process for Air India on January 27 offering its entire 100 percent stake, putting its entire 100 percent stake in the airline on sale.
The Tata group has approached AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes for his green signal on the Air India Express acquisition, sources told TOI.
The non-compete clause in the agreement between AirAsia and Tata Sons does not permit either party from being involved in another low-cost airline.
Meanwhile, Tony Fernandes stepped aside as AirAsia CEO on February 3 for at least two months as Malaysian authorities investigate allegations of Airbus bribing the airline for an aircraft order.
Senior company executive Tharumalingam Kanagalingam has been appointed as acting CEO.
Fernandes was also recently summoned by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in relation to charges of criminal conspiracy and money laundering.
The Tatas founded Air India in 1932 as “Tata Air Services” and owned it till it was nationalised in 1947.
--With PTI inputs
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Updated Date: Feb 06, 2020 09:13:53 IST