Govt looking at options to retain stake in Air India

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on February 22, 2018 Published on February 22, 2018

Draft Expression of Interest to be examined by core group on disinvestment

The government is looking at four options for retaining stake in the divestment-bound carrier Air India. The options include retaining a 49 per cent stake, a 26 per cent, a 24 per cent or zero per cent in the airline, a senior official said on Thursday.

The options before the government have been listed in the draft Expressionof Interest (EoI). The government will weigh the pros and cons of all four options, including the funds that will be raised through each, before a final decision is taken.

The draft will be examined by the core group on disinvestment and the Alternate Mechanism of Ministers constituted to prepare a strategy for the privatisation of Air India and a final decision on how much stake the government will retain will be incorporated in the final Expression of Interest which will be then issued to prospective bidders, officials said.

At the moment, the government is clear that the divestment of Air India will be completed before the end of the year and daily management control will pass into the hands of the new owner.

Officials are silent on whether the entire process of issuing the EoI can be completed by the end of this month as had been indicated by RN Choubey, Secretary, Civil Aviation, earlier this year.

The problem in giving a clear timeline on whether the EoI will be issued by the end of the month is that the Alternate Mechanism of Ministers includes several members, including the Ministers of Finance and Civil Aviation, and getting them all together is sometimes a challenge.

But lack of clarity on how much the government plans to divest does not seem to have affected those interested in picking up a stake in Air India and its subsidiaries.

Jayant Sinha, Minister of State for Civil Aviation, recently told newspersons that apart from IndiGo, a foreign airline had also sent a confidential letter showing interest in Air India’s airline business.

The Minister had declined to say from which region or part of the world the foreign airline was from.

Published on February 22, 2018
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