Ministerial group discusses Air India disinvestment
Published:September 22, 2017 10:32 pm
A group of ministers, headed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, discussed in details the modalities for the strategic disinvestment of Air India, according to sources. Second in less than a month, the meeting came a week after the government invited applications from entities to act as advisers for the stake sale process.
Loss-making Air India is staying afloat on taxpayers’ funds and to revive the carrier, the government decided on strategic disinvestment in June. The group of ministers’ meeting on Thursday went on for nearly an hour and was attended by Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju and Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, among others.
Official sources said the discussions would continue and “nothing concrete has been finalised” by the panel. For cargo handling business of Air India, at least two proposals have come in, they added.
According to them, one of the proposals has come from Tushar Jani Group. Tushar Jani was the founder of courier company Blue Dart Express Ltd, which has been part of the Deutsche Post DHL Group since March 2005. DHL Express (Singapore) Pte Ltd has 75 per cent stake in Blue Dart.
Two parties — IndiGo and Bird Group — have already formally evinced interest in Air India disinvestment and have written to the civil aviation ministry in this regard.
On June 28, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) had given its in-principle for strategic disinvestment of Air India and five of its subsidiaries. Subsequently, an Air India-specific Alternative Mechanism was set up to guide the process.
The ministerial group is looking into treatment of Air India’s unsustainable debt, hiving off of certain assets to a shell company, demerger and strategic disinvestment of three profit-making subsidiaries, among other aspects.
Applications have been sought for engaging up to two advisers and a legal adviser for the “strategic disinvestment of Air India and its subsidiaries/ joint venture”, according to two similarly-worded public notices issued by the Finance Ministry on September 14.