Jet Airways opts out of Air India divestment talks

Jet Airways opts out of Air India divestment talks

Jet Airways on Tuesday said that it would not be participating in the Air India disinvestment process, becoming the second domestic airline after IndiGo to make such a decision in less than a week.

The ambitious strategic stake sale of loss-making Air India, as well as its two subsidiaries, seem to be hitting air pockets with the two potential bidders deciding to keep away citing the contours of the process.

Kicking off the disinvestment process, the government has came out with a detailed preliminary information memorandum, detailing plans to offload up to 76% stake in Air India, and transfer management control to private players.

"We welcome the government move to privatise Air India. It is a bold step. However, considering the terms of offer in the information memorandum and based on our review, we are not participating in the process," Jet Airways Deputy CEO and CFO Amit Agarwal said.

However, he did not divulge any specific reason about the decision to not participate in the stake sale process.

Last month, sources had said that a consortium of Jet Airways, Air France-KLM and Delta Airlines was understood to have expressed interest in the disinvestment of Air India.

Naresh Goyal-led Jet Airways' statement on Tuesday comes less than a week after no-frills carrier IndiGo aborting plans to acquire Air India's international operations.

On April 5, IndiGo President and Whole-Time Director Aditya Ghosh said that from day 1, the airline has expressed its interest primarily in the acquisition of Air India's international operations and Air India Express.

"However, that option is not available under the government's current divestiture plans for Air India. Also, as we have communicated before, we do not believe that we have the capability to take on the task of acquiring and successfully turning around all of Air India's airline operations," he had said in a statement.

According to the memorandum, issued on March 28, the government would retain 24% stake in the flag carrier, the winning bidder would be required to stay invested in the airline for at least three years.

The proposed disinvestment would include profit-making Air India Express and joint venture AISATS. The latter is an equal joint venture between the national carrier and Singapore-based SATS.

The existing debt and liabilities of Air India and Air India Express as on March 31, 2017 would be re-allocated, as per the memorandum.

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