New Delhi: In a fresh development towards the disinvestment of Air India (AI), the government on Monday issued the preliminary information memorandum for 100 per cent stake sale in national carrier.

As per the bid document issued today, Air India would also sell 100 per cent stake in low cost airline Air India Express and 50 per cent shareholding in joint venture AISATS, as part of the strategic disinvestment. Management control of the airline would also be transferred to the successful bidder.

“Government of India (GOI) has given ‘in-principle’ approval for Strategic disinvestment of Air India (AI) by way of the transfer of management control&sale of 100% equity share capital of AI held by GOI which will include AI’s shareholding interest of 100% in AIXL and 50% in AISATS”, the bid document read. It has set March 17 as the deadline for submissions of initial expressions of interest.

Bidding Norms Relaxed

The government has also relaxed bidding norms to coax investors to buy the airline. The bidding party will have to bear with only Rs 23,286 crore of the total Rs 60,000 crore debt of Air India.

Besides, the net worth for eligible bidders has also been relaxed to Rs 3,500 crore from Rs 5,000 crore.

Political War Erupts

Hitting out at government, Congress leader Kapil Sibal said that they (Centre) will sell all the valuable assets the country  possess. “When governments don’t have money this is what they do. Govt of India has no money, growth is less than 5% & millions of rupees outstanding under MNREGA. This is what they will do, sell all the valuable assets we have”, ANI quoted Sibal as saying.

Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) firebrand leader Subramanian Swamy has also criticised the deal, calling it anti-national. “This deal is wholly anti-national. We can not sell our family silver”, the BJP leader stated. Furthermore, he added that he will approach the court against the government’s decision.