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Coronavirus: Govt extends deadlines for Air India sale

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New Delhi: In the wake of Coronavirus outbreak, the government has extended the last date for submitting bids for Air India sale from March 17 to April 30. In a notification released on Friday, the DIPAM (Department of Investment and Public Asset Management) said that the last date for intimation to the Qualified Interested Bidders (QIB) has also been extended from March 31 to May 14. The last date for release of response to queries on PIM (Preliminary Information Memorandum) has been extended from March 16 to March 20. “The above changes are in view of the requests received from the IBs and the prevailing situation arising out of COVID-19,” the DIPAM notification on Air India sale said.

Air India sale: Decision was taken by Alternative Mechanism

The decision to extend the deadline for the submission of EoI (Expression of Interest) by interested bidders for the sale of Air India was taken by an Alternative Mechanism headed by Union Home Minister Amit Shah. The government has allowed access to “virtual data room” of Air India to interested bidders in February and has allowed them time till March 6 to pose queries.

The backdrop

The Centre released the PIM for seeking bids for the sale of Air India in January this year after a failed attempted in 2018. It is looking to sell 100 percent stake in the airline, including Air India’s 100 percent shareholding in AI Express Ltd and 50 percent in Air India SATS Airport Services Private Ltd to a strategic player. On February 21, DIPAM issued the first set of clarification in which its answered queries regarding the ‘confidentiality undertaking.’ Interested bidders for Air India should have a net worth of Rs 3,500 crore. The total debt on the airline, as on March 31, 2019, 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.

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