air india woes

Air India sale: Centre looks for financial, legal advisers to speed up disinvestment process

Interested investment banks and law firms will have to submit their applications by October 12.

The government has invited bids to appoint two financial advisers and a legal adviser to privatise national carrier Air India and its subsidiaries, the Ministry of Finance said in a newspaper advertisement on Thursday.

The notice added that interested investment banks and law firms would have to submit their applications by October 12. In June, the government had agreed to sell Air India, which has for years struggled under losses and debts. In August, the Cabinet Committee of Economic Affairs approved a three-step strategy for its sale.

“The Government of India has in-principle decided to consider the disinvestment of the AI Group as a whole or its constituents fully or part thereof through strategic sale with transfer of management control,” Thursday’s government notice said.

Rising debt

By the end of 2016-17, Air India’s debts amounted to Rs 48,876 crore. It has Rs 28,000 crore as working capital debt and Rs 4,000 crore as interest burden alone, according to the Financial Express. It has not turned a profit in 10 years, the report said.

In August, aviation services provider Bird Group had expressed interest in acquiring Air India’s ground handling services. Private airline IndiGo had also expressed interest in buying Air India’s international business, soon after the Centre had approved the privatisation of the national carrier and its five subsidiaries on June 28. The Tata Group, too, is believed to be interested in the buyout.

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