Air India sale: Govt plans to conduct roadshows, meet prospective buyers

Bloomberg New Delhi | Updated on July 16, 2019

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India is considering inviting expressions of interest to sell Air India Ltd by the end of next month as the government aims to complete the transaction this year, people with knowledge of the matter said.

“The government will conduct roadshows, as well as, be open to meet prospective buyers even before the expressions of interest are sought,” the people said, declining to be identified as the discussions are private. “The process will likely allow the bidders to look at the accounts of the airline except for some portions that are confidential and also see the share purchase agreement,” they said without providing details.

Also read: Air India stake sale: Will it be a smooth flight this time?

“The potential bidders will have the option to make suggestions for changes in the sale terms during the process of expressing their interest in the deal,” the people said.

The government is looking to sell all its stake in the carrier, they said.

DS Malik, a spokesman of the Ministry of Finance, did not immediately answer two calls made to his mobile phone. Dhananjay Kumar, a spokesman of Air India, declined to comment.

Reviving sale plans

The plan is being prepared after the government’s attempt to partially exit the carrier failed to attract any bidder last year. In her budget presentation for the current financial year, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that the government will revive plans to sell Air India and the divestment would be part of the governments efforts to raise Rs 1,05,000 crore ($15.3 billion) selling stakes in state-run companies.

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Air India, which is surviving on a Rs 30,000 crore taxpayer-funded bailout, has failed to maintain its market dominance as a slew of carriers including InterGlobe Aviation Ltd and SpiceJet Ltd started to offer ultra-cheap, on-time flights more than a decade ago.

The state-run airline has total debts of $8.4 billion and posted losses of more than Rs 7,600 crore last year, according to provisional estimates.

Published on July 16, 2019

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