The government is not open to hiving off parts of Air India and will only sell the combined domestic and global operations to a private buyer, Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha said today.
The Department of Industrial Promotion and Management has been tasked with leading the stake sale and the winning bidders could be announced in the next six-eight months, Sinha told reporters.
The government is in the process of selling all operations of the national carrier and has appointed global consultancy Ernst & Young as the transaction advisor for the deal. The carrier has several subsidiaries within flight operations and in sectors such as ground handling, MRO services and the hospitality industry.
Air India presently has a combined debt of over Rs 50,000 crore. The government is planning to exclude more than half of this debt to make it attractive for potential buyers, according to a Bloomberg report.
So far, the country's largest carrier by market share, IndiGo, has sent its expression of interest to buy the international operations of the airline, along with its short-haul international arm Air India Express. The airline would also consider buying the entire operations if the government decided to bundle it, the Aditya Ghosh-led company had said.
The government will send the expressions of interest to Ernst & Young, Sinha said, adding that the stake sale is a time-bound process which will be wrapped up as soon as possible.
Clarifying on media reports which said that the Tata Group had sent an expression of interest to buy the airline, Sinha said the ministry had seen only an “indication of interest”, going by comments of Chairman N Chandrasekaran. The Tata Sons chief recently said the group would consider bidding for the carrier but was awaited exact details of the divestment, Livemint reported.