Govt invites EOI for Pawan Hans disinvestment

Govt invites EOI for Pawan Hans disinvestment
The government on Friday set in motion to sell off its entire 51% stake and management control in helicopter service operator Pawan Hans Ltd to private players, including foreign companies.

The Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) publicised the invite for 'global invitation for expression of interest' from prospective buyers and asked them to submit it by December 8.

While 51% of the stake and administrative control is under the MoCA, the rest of the stake in the Mini-Ratna-I Category PSU belongs to Oil and Natural Gas Corp. Ltd (ONGC).

"The GOI (Government of India) proposes to disinvest its entire equity shareholding of 51% in PHL by way of strategic disinvestment to the investor(s) along with the transfer of management control," the public notice said.

Already, the government has appointed SBI Capital Markets Ltd (SBICAP) as its Advisor to manage the strategic disinvestment process. The disinvestment process will be implemented through open competitive bidding route, a senior official said.

This is part of government's initiative to divest its stakes in a number of public enterprises and it plans to raise Rs 15,000 crore through strategic sale in the current fiscal out of its total disinvestment target of Rs 72,509 crore. In June, the Union Cabinet had cleared the disinvestment of Air India and a Group of Ministers is finalising the contours of the process.

While the government is going ahead with its plans to divest its stake in the chopper service company, a Parliamentary panel had in two months ago has objected to the plans saying it fails to understand the logic of selling a profit-making unit.

The panel said, the DH reported on August 14, it "fails to understand why strategic disinvestment has been started for Pawan Hans which is a profit making organisation". The panel had said it is making a profit but Pawan Hands need money for its fleet expansion and fleet replacement and wanted the government to seriously consider providing a one-time grant of Rs 600 crore for its "ambitious expansion plan".

However, in its reply, the MoCA told the panel, as the process of strategic disinvestment of Pawan Hans has started, the guidelines categorically states the fact that the company has been identified for strategic disinvestment must be kept in mind before any major investment decision is taken.
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