Tata-Run Vistara Says Evaluating Air India, No Decision On Bidding Yet
An Air India Boeing Co. 777 aircraft is displayed at the India Aviation 2010 conference in Hyderabad, India. (Photographer: Namas Bhojani/Bloomberg)

Tata-Run Vistara Says Evaluating Air India, No Decision On Bidding Yet

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Vistara is evaluating bidding for Air India but a decision has not been taken yet on placing a bid, the chairman of the Tata Sons-Singapore Airlines joint venture said Monday.

"We are evaluating Air India. Which company would not be interested in evaluating a sovereign airline of the country?" Bhat said. "Whether we bid or not comes later." On being asked if Vistara or Tata Sons were evaluating Air India, Bhat replied: "We (Vistara) are a joint venture."

The government has put up for sale its entire stake in Air India Ltd. and Air India Express Ltd. as well 50 percent shareholding in Air India SATS Airport Pvt. Ltd. The proceeds will go towards meeting its lofty disinvestment target for 2020-21.

Tata Sons, while holds stake in Vistara and AirAsia India, is said to be among those who are evaluating a bid for the debt-laden national carrier. Gautam Adani-led Adani Group and London-based Hinduja brothers are among the potential suitors.

On Feb. 25, government officials indicated that the March 17 deadline for placing Air India bids is now likely to be extended.

After its unsuccessful bid to sell 76 percent stake in Air India in 2018, the government this time has decided to offload its entire stake. Of the total debt of Rs 60,074 crore as on Mar. 31, 2019, the buyer would be required to absorb Rs 23,286.5 crore, while the rest would be transferred to Air India Assets Holding Ltd., a special purpose vehicle.

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

Also Read: Air India Is Up For Sale Again. Here’s What’s Different This Time

Non-core assets—art and artifacts—as well as other non-operational assets of the national carrier too will be transferred to the SPV. Air India and Air India Express owned about 120 aircraft in 2017-18 and 126 planes as of September last year.

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