New Delhi, June 12: The government is planning to reinstate the stake sale process of the debt-ridden Air India with a fresh set of guidelines, according to a Bloomberg report. The development comes days after the Air India disinvestment process miserably failed as the proposed terms deterred potential investors.
The report cited Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) Secretary Subhash Chandra Garg saying that the government is ready to “re-examine” its privatization process, including a clause requiring a minority state stake in Air India.
“The government is considering various options and doesn’t intend to insist on keeping 24 per cent of the company,” Garg was quoted as saying.
Garg said that the strategy offered by the government failed to work out, and that it is reconsidering “something different”.
The Air India disinvestment process received a major setback on May 31 — the deadline for submission of Expression of Interest for Air India stake sale – with no potential investor bidding for the stakes.
IndiGo Airlines had initially said that it was keen on buying the shares, but later pulled out after the government specified that it was not selling Air India’s international operations separately.
The government had earlier proposed to offload 76 per cent equity share capital of the national carrier as well as transfer the management control to private players. The transaction was to involve Air India, Air India Express and SATS Airport Services Pvt Ltd.
As per the memorandum issued on March 28, the government said it would retain 24 per cent stake in the national carrier, and that the winning bidder would be required to stay invested in the airline for at least three years.
The ailing airline’s total debt stood at over Rs 48,000 crore at the end of March 2017.