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Pawan Hans stake sale has elicited competitive interest, says DIPAM secretary

PW Bureau

As the government chases its divestment target of Rs 80,000 crores, it is planning to offload its stake in Pawan Hans and exit the chopper-maker Mumbai: The government’s plan to sell its stake in state-owned Pawan Hans has found takers and the Air India disinvestment drive is also in the pipeline, a senior government official said.

Govt looking to disinvest 51% stake in Pawan Hans

The government owns 51 percent in Pawan Hans, while the rest of the 49 percent is owned by state-owned oil major Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC). Pawan Hans has a fleet of 46 choppers. As the government chases its divestment target of Rs 80,000 crores, it is planning to offload its stake and exit the chopper-maker. The disinvestment process is on, as ONGC refused to buy out the government’s stake when it was proposed last year. “Pawan Hans (PHL) for which an RFP (request for proposal) has been invited, has got substantial competitive interest,” Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) secretary Atanu Chakraborty told reporters on the sidelines of an NSE event. The government had issued the information memorandum for the 51 percent strategic stake sale in Pawan Hans in April and had sought expressions of interest (EoI) from interested bidders by June 18.

Air India disinvestment plan not on backburner

Speaking about the plan to disinvest Air India, Chakraborty asserted that the drive was not on the backburner, adding that the process is a continuing exercise. “As a part of that, an expression of interest have been invited for Air India Air Transport Services (AIATSL). And, certain other assets of Air India are in the process of being sold,” he added. AIATSL is Air India’s profit-making ground handling arm. In 2016-17, it posted a profit of Rs 61.66 crore. After the government failed to offload its 76 percent stake in the national carrier in June this year, it has plans to transfer most of Air India’s debt to a special purpose vehicle.

‘Goct on track to meet Disinvestment target’

Even as the government has just been able to mop up Rs Rs10,000 crore out of the intended Rs 80,000 crores through disinvestment, Chakraborty expressed confidence that the Centre will meet its target. He said the government will continue to use exchange traded funds (ETF) as one of its preferred modes for disinvestment. Speaking about the ongoing CPSE ETF, he said, against the Rs 8,000 crore offering, a subscription of Rs30,000 crore has been received, but the government will retain only Rs17,000 crore.