Mumbai, Jul 24: Narendra Modi government’s bid to privatise the loss making Air India received further boost with two more companies showing interest in the beleaguered airline. Overseas Private equity firms KKR and Warbug Pincus have reportedly shown interest in the Air India disinvestment process and have asked for details on the process. Also Read - IPL 2020: Robin Uthappa Picks Gautam Gambhir as Best Captain to Play Under, Heaps Rich Praise on 'Good Leader' Rohit Sharma
IndiGo was the first domestic air carrier which showed interest in Air India soon after government announced its decision in June. IndiGo was more keen on buying the international services and low cost services of Air India. There were reports that Tata Group was also interested in Air India disinvestment and have informally asked for documents to study what was on offer. However, there was no official confirmation on this, a report in financial daily Mint on Monday said. ALSO READ: AI employees stage protest against privatisation Also Read - IPL 2020: KKR Coach Brendon McCullum Finds Comfort at Home During Coronavirus Lockdown
The deal, if it comes through, would mark KKR’s foray in aviation in Asian market. The American equity firm is concentrating in retail and consumer, energy and resources, financial services, healthcare, industrials, media and telecom and technology in the Asian market. Likewise, for Warbug Pincus, it will be its first investment in aviation sector in Asia. The company has invested in energy, media and entertainment and realty among other sectors in India.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley headed sub-committee of ministers in their first meeting on July 21 discussed the sale of Air India assets. More overseas firms are likely to come up with proposals in the coming days on Air India disinvestment, the Mint report said. There were reports in a section of the media that Air India was planning to offer Voluntary Retirement Service option to over 20,000 Air India employees as part of the re-structuring. However, Air India chairman and managing director Ashwani Lohani denied any such plan. Also Read - Post April 14, Central Govt Likely to Allow Flight Operations in Staggered Manner
With a debt burden of over Rs 52,000 crore, Air India has 17 per cent of international air traffic from India and 13 per cent of domestic traffic.