Air India sell off: Bidders now have time till 30 April as govt extends deadline due to coronavirus

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Updated: March 13, 2020 1:03 PM

Bidders for India’s national carrier Air India now have more time at their disposal as the government has extended the deadline for bids submission.

Coronavirus outbreak, Air India, Air India crew, Union Health Ministry, coronavirus toll, coronavirus in delhi, latest news on coronavirus, Harsh Vardhan, COVID-19As of 31 March 2019, the airline has a debt of over Rs 60,000 crore.

Bidders for India’s national carrier Air India now have more time at their disposal as the government has extended the deadline for bids submission. The original deadline was set to 17 March and the same now stands at 30 April, the Ministry of Finance said on Friday. The government is looking to offload 100% of its stake in the beleaguered airline. “The changes are in view of the requests received from the IBs (interested bidders) and the prevailing situation arising out of COVID-19,” the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) said in a notification. 

As the government grows desperate to sell Maharaja to a private player, it had earlier announced that the Indians settled abroad can also buy up to 100% stake in Air India. While NRIs could only hold up to 49% limit in the airline earlier, it made amendments to the previous laws early this month. The NRI investment will be treated as domestic investment and hence will not violate SOEC norms. According to these norms, any carrier that operates overseas should be owned by that country’s government or citizens. 

Also Read: Coronavirus blow: As foreign airlines suspend operations, tourism, hotels will also be hit

The government has been trying for some time to sell the airline but met several failed attempts. In January this year, the government restarted divestment proceedings against the airline and invited bids for selling 100% of its equity in the Air India. The interested bidders for the national carrier must have a net worth of at least Rs 3,500 crore.

Earlier, the government had released the Preliminary Information Memorandum (PIM) for Air India disinvestment in January 2020. Under this, the interested bidder will have to take over debt worth Rs 23,286 crore. Air India’s rest of the debt will be transferred to a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), the government had said. As of 31 March 2019, the airline has a debt of over Rs 60,000 crore. Tata Group had also earlier said that it is evaluating bidding in the airline. 

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