Air India sale: Employees, US-based fund Interups AI jointly submit bid

Ashwini Phadnis New Delhi | Updated on December 14, 2020

Air India employees along with US-based fund Interups AI have submitted an Expression of Interest for picking up a stake in Air India.

“We are proposing Air India Ltd to continue as is with employees to own 51 per cent and the Interups NRI group to own 49 per cent capital completely invested by the NRIs,” Laxmi Prasad, Chairman, Interups AI, told BusinessLine.

He added that willing and continuing employees will be offered 51 per cent in the consortium that acquires the airline and points out that no capital investment is required.

Infrastructure investment trust

“Post-acquisition, AI and our group shall sponsor the aviation infrastructure investment trust with certain infrastructure assets to be sponsored into the invite for monetisation. We are actively advocating airline routes, ground handling, training and other facilities in infrastructure placement. This leaves the current company to remain lean and operational,” Prasad said. Interups AI holds over 27,500 qualified asset accounts owned by US-based non-resident Indians.

Meenakshi Mallik, Commercial Director, AI, confirmed that the EOI had been submitted adding that 219 employees representing a cross section of employees, including Board members, are part of the consortium. “The government has given us a chance and we believe that we can turn around the company,” she added.

AI’s divestment restarted in January this year with the Centre seeking to sell 100 per cent of its equity share capital in the state-owned airline, including Air India’s shareholding interest of 100 per cent in AI Express Ltd and 50 per cent in Air India SATS Airport Services Pvt Ltd.

In order to facilitate the sale, the government in October this year decided not to predetermine Air India’s debt level and leave it to the market to decide.

Published on December 14, 2020

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