Air India Sale: Government Extends Deadline For Bidders To Pose Queries
An Air India Ltd. aircraft prepares to land at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai, India. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)  

Air India Sale: Government Extends Deadline For Bidders To Pose Queries

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Bidders interested in the Air India sale now have time till March 6 to pose additional queries, the government said on Monday.

The government has issued the first set of clarification on Air India disinvestment, answering queries of interested bidders on the "confidentiality undertaking" listed out in the Preliminary Information Memorandum issued on Jan. 27.

The last date for submission of written queries on PIM and Share Purchase Agreement was originally set at Feb. 11, following which the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management issued on Feb. 21 a set of 20 clarifications on the queries raised. The additional time period for submission of written queries on PIM and SPA is till March 6, 2020, DIPAM said.

The government in January restarted the Air India disinvestment process after its 2018 proposal to offload 76 percent stake in the airline found no takers. It is now selling all of its 100 percent stake in Air India and Air India Express Ltd. and 50 percent in Air India SATS Airport Services Pvt. Ltd.

Interested bidders for Air India should have a net worth of Rs 3,500 crore. The last date for putting bids is March 17.

The disinvestment is neccessary as the flag carrier has been a loss-making enterprise since it subsumed Indian Airlines in 2007. It had total debt of Rs 60,074 crore as of March 31, 2019; the buyer would be required to absorb Rs 23,286.5 crore of this while the rest would be transferred to Air India Assets Holding Ltd., a special purpose vehicle.

As a precursor to Air India sale, the Union Cabinet had in February 2019 approved setting up Air India Assets Holding Ltd. to transfer Rs 29,464 crore worth loans of the national carrier and its four subsidiaries—Air India Air Transport Services, Airline Allied Services, Air India Engineering Services Ltd and Hotel Corporation of India.

Also non-core assets—art and artefacts—as well as other non-operational assets of the national carrier too will be transferred to the SPV.

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