Ministers’ panel on Air India divestment to meet today

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on September 18, 2019 Published on September 19, 2019

The Alternative Mechanism set up to expedite divestment of Air India is to meet on Thursday, Hardeep Singh Puri, Minister of State for Civil Aviation, said.

Home Minister Amit Shah heads the Alternate Mechanism which includes the Ministers of Finance and Civil Aviation apart from senior officials from various government ministries.

Kumarmangalam Birla, Chairman, Aditya Birla Group, who was present at Wednesday's meeting on Air India, said he had attended as he is on the board of the airline. He declined to say whether he was interested in bidding for the airline.

While the broad contours of Air India’s divestment have not yet been made public, it is widely expected that the government will be willing to sell its 100 per cent stake in the airline.

Late last month, Puri had said the government’s determination to privatise Air India was a given and undiluted.

He had said the government wants to hand over the airline to whoever is the successful bidder on an “as-is-where-is basis but a successful money-making business”.

It is widely expected that the Expression of Interest for those interested in biding for the state-owned airline will be floated in October with the government keen on completing the process in a short time-frame.

The government has taken several measures to ensure that the process goes through this time, including transferring a majority of the airline’s debt to a special purpose vehicle. However, despite these measures it remains to be seen what the market response to the proposed divestment process will be. Several key industrial houses, including the Tatas, are said to have indicated that they will not be interested in bidding for Air India.

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Published on September 19, 2019
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