Tata Group, Indiaâ€™s largest conglomerate, is believed to have filed an Expression of Interest for Air India on Monday.
According to the reports, the Tata group will use AirAsia as a vehicle where Tata Sons have a significant majority stake. The details of which are further awaited.
Further, a group of 200 employees of Air India are also expected to place an expression of interest, the deadline for which is Monday 5.00 pm. The group claims to have a financial investor also on board.
Back in 2018, there were no bidders for Air India when the Centre had first offered to sell a 76 percent stake, this time around there are multiple interests. The ailing airline has outstanding debt of Rs 23,286 crore after the government brought it down from Rs 62,000 crore earlier this year to make the carrier more attractive to potential buyers.
Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri had said: â€œIt (AI divestment) is a confidential procedure. The department concerned (DIPAM) will comment at the appropriate time.â€ Last year, the minister had mentioned the carrier would have to shut down if not privatised.
The government has this time sweetened the sale terms for Air India. It has offered for sale its 100 percent stake in Air India and AI Express. This was 76 percent in the first attempt and the entire 50 percent it owns in ground handling joint venture AI-SATS. The potential buyers will now bid on an enterprise value basis.
It is also learned that Singapore Airlines was also keen in participating in the privatisation programme of Air India. The airlines is in the midst of raising funds after it posted its biggest quarterly loss due to a huge drop in travel demand because of the Covid-19 crisis.
According to industry watchers, the Tata Groupâ€”which founded AI as Tata Airlines in 1932â€”is being seen as the most likely winner.