No bidder for Air India as deadline closes

The government had planned to offload 76% equity share capital of the national carrier, Air India, as well as transfer the management control to private players. REUTERS file Photo

The government’s disinvestment plans for Air India got off to a rough start on Thursday with not a single entity submitting initial bids, prompting authorities to think of a possible change in strategy to attract buyers.

“As informed by the Transaction Adviser, no response has been received for the Expression of Interest floated for the strategic disinvestment of Air India. Further course of action will be decided appropriately,” the Civil Aviation Ministry said in a tweet soon after the deadline for submitting the EOIs ended at 5 pm.

The ministry had earlier extended the deadline from May 14 to May 31. Now, officials said, the Group of Ministers (GoM) would decide on the future course of action on Air India disinvestment.

The announcement on the quantum of stake sale had come on March 28 while the “in-principle” Union Cabinet approval for divesting government stakes had been taken in June last year.

The government had planned to offload 76% equity share capital of the national carrier as well as transfer the management control to private players.

The transaction would involve Air India, its low cost arm Air India Express and Air India SATS Airport Services Pvt Ltd. The latter is an equal joint venture between the national carrier and Singapore-based SATS Ltd.

As there was no response to the EOIs, Civil Aviation Secretary R N Choubey said, “We were looking forward for better participation. Choubey indicated that there could be a rethink on the disinvestment strategy. The government will ensure that the airline does not face “any operational difficulties following the latest developments”, he said.

The Indian carriers have not shown interest in the bidding process and market leader IndiGo and Jet Airways made it public that they are not in the race.

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No bidder for Air India as deadline closes

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