Air India selloff entering last lap, bids may be opened today

The privatisation process of national carrier Air India is entering the last lap, with the Centre confident of meeting all the defined milestones related to the airline’s divestment.
Bids could be opened as early as Wednesday, a source involved in the bidding process said, though this could not be independently confirmed.

ET had earlier reported that the financial bids would be opened by the month-end.

Sources indicate that by mid-October, the government would be in a position to announce the winning bidder.

The two bidders, Tata Group and

‘s Ajay Singh, were not available for comment. The government, which called bids for a 100% stake in Air India, Air India Express and 50% in ground handling company AISATS, has received bids from the Tata Group and Ajay Singh in his personal capacity.

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The sale of Air India is a key component of Modi government’s privatisation programme and is being monitored by an Amit Shah-led ministerial committee.

This is the second attempt by the government to divest a stake in Air India. An earlier attempt in 2018 to sell 76% in the airline did not find any takers because the government had planned to retain 26% stake even after privatising the national carrier.

As part of the current proposal, Air India will be transferred to the private owner with a debt of ₹23,000 crore. The proposal envisages transferring the remaining debt to the government-owned Air India Asset Holdings Ltd (AIAHL) – a new company that will house the carrier’s assets, such as the Air India building in Mumbai, Airlines House in Delhi, a 4-acre plot in Delhi’s Connaught Place, and properties in housing societies in Delhi, Mumbai and other cities.

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