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Govt to Sell 100% Stake in Air India in Fresh Hunt for Bids, New Owner Must Absorb $3.26 Billion Debt

Illustration by Mir Suhail (News18.com)

Illustration by Mir Suhail (News18.com)

A document inviting expressions of interest in Air India, released on Monday, said the government would sell a 100% stake in the carrier, which operates both domestic and international routes.

  • Reuters
  • Last Updated: January 27, 2020, 12:26 PM IST
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New Delhi: The government on Monday announced plans to sell its entire stake in Air India in a revised push to sell its national carrier after an initial attempt to sell a majority stake in the airline failed to draw a single bid in 2018.

A document inviting expressions of interest in Air India, released on Monday, said the government would sell a 100% stake in the carrier, which operates both domestic and international routes.

“The Government of India (GOI) has given ‘in-principle’ approval for the strategic disinvestment of AI (Air India) by way of the transfer of management control and sale of 100% equity share capital of AI held by GOI which will include AI’s shareholding interest of 100% in AIXL (Air India Express Limited) and 50% in AISATS (Air India SATS Airport Services Private Limited)," the document said.

The document set March 17 as the deadline for submissions of initial expressions of interest and said any bidder would have to agree to assume roughly $3.26 billion in debt, along with other liabilities.

The government said that substantial ownership and effective control of Air India would have to remain vested with an Indian entity following the sale, limiting the scope of any foreign bidders interested in the asset.

In 2018, India had tried to sell a 76% stake in Air India and offload about $5.1 billion of its debt, terms that potential buyers at the time viewed as too onerous.

Air India, known for its Maharaja mascot, has some of India's most lucrative international and domestic landing and parking slots that are key for airlines.

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