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Air India sale process begins, govt clears draft for inviting EoI

The Ministry of Civil Aviation had informed the Lok Sabha in November last year that it is preparing a bid document for Air India sale
New Delhi: A Group of Ministers (GOM) led by Union Minister Amit Shah has started the process for Air India sale on Tuesday as they gave a nod to a draft document for inviting Expression of Interest (EoI). The EoI is expected to be issued before the end of January, a senior official said on the condition of anonymity.

Approval for inviting bids for Air India stake sale

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal, Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri and Aviation Secretary Pradeep Singh Kharola were present at the high-level meeting at which the approval for inviting initial bids for the sale of stakes in the national carrier was cleared. Earlier, the GoM had met in September 2019 the last time before Tuesday's meeting.

Long process

The Ministry of Civil Aviation had informed the Lok Sabha in November last year that it is preparing a bid document for the state-run carrier's disinvestment. The information was shared by Puri in response to a question asked in the Lower House of the Parliament. “After the formation of the new government, Air India Specific Alternative Mechanism (AISAM) has been reconstituted and has approved the re-initiation of the strategic disinvestment of Air India and its subsidiaries. The preparation of Preliminary Information Memorandum (PIM) for inviting Expression of Interest (EoI) for the strategic disinvestment of Air India is in process,” Puri had said.

The backdrop

The total debt on the airline, as on March 31, stands at Rs 58,282.02 crores. The government has hived off debt amounting to Rs 29,464 crores via a special purpose vehicle (SPV). The government is likely to review the debt allocation between Air India and SPV closer to disinvestment. In November, PSU Watch reported that the government is expected to finalise the offer document for disinvestment by end of November. The initial deadline to release the offer document was October-end, however, it got postponed, a source had said. The national carrier began the process for the strategic sale of its three businesses.