New Delhi: Industrialist Gautam Adani’s conglomerate Adani Group is engaged in initial talks to bid for ailing national carrier Air India, Moneycontrol reported on Monday.
“The Adani group has engaged advisors and is evaluating submission of an expression of interest (EoI) at this stage. Their interest is preliminary and clarifications need to be sought from the government on the bidding process,” the report quoted a source as saying.
It quoted another source as saying that the Adani Group is yet to take a final call. “With this transaction, the group can diversify and bolster their presence in the sector.”
In response to a query from Moneycontrol, an Adani Group spokesperson said, “As part of company policy, we do not comment on market speculation.”
In 2019, the Adani group forayed into airport operations and maintenance. It created a separate entity -- Adani Airports -- when it bagged bids on privatisation of six airports owned by the Airports Authority of India. The group won a 50-year contract for operation, management and development of the Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Jaipur, Guwahati, Thiruvanathapuram and Mangaluru airports.
The Tata Group, which operates Singapore Airlines and Air Asia, is also seen a contender for the Air India deal. But on February 5, Tata Sons chairman N Chandrasekaran said it is ‘too early’ to take a call on Air India, in which the government has decided to sell its entire 100 percent stake. In 2018, the government had offered to sell 76 percent in the state-run carrier, but had failed to attract even a single bid.
In January, the government had announced that it plans to sell its entire interest in Air India and said any bidder must assume liabilities, including debt of Rs 232.87 billion.
The potential sale of an airline kept aloft by a $4.2 billion 10-year bailout in 2012 comes as the government divests money-losing assets to manage the fiscal deficit.