Final works going on
Air India is likely to be handed over to the Tata group by the end of this week, according to senior government officials. After a competitive bidding process, the government had on October 8 last year sold Air India to Talace Private Limited — a subsidiary of the Tata group’s holding company — for Rs 18,000 crore.
Following that, on October 11, a Letter of Intent (LoI) was issued to the Tata group confirming the government’s willingness to sell its 100 percent stake in the airline. On October 25, the Centre signed the share purchase agreement (SPA) for this deal. The remaining formalities regarding this deal are expected to be completed in the next few days and the airline will be handed over to the Tata group by the end of this week.
As a part of the deal, the Tata group will also be handed over Air India Express and a 50 percent stake in ground handling arm Air India SATS.
High hopes for Air India
Tatas had on October 8 beat the Rs 15,100-crore offer by a consortium led by SpiceJet promoter Ajay Singh and the reserve price of Rs 12,906 crore set by the government for the sale of its 100 percent stake in the loss-making carrier.
While this will be the first privatisation since 2003-04, Air India will be the third airline brand in the Tatas’ stable; it holds a majority interest in AirAsia India and Vistara, a joint venture with Singapore Airlines Ltd.
“The disinvestment of Air India is now decided to be on January 27, 2022. The closing balance sheet as on January 20 has to be provided today Jan 24 so that it can be reviewed by Tatas and any changes can be effected on Wednesday,” Vinod Hejmadi, Director Finance, Air India, said in an email to employees.
“We have done an excellent job till now in providing all support for the disinvestment exercise. The next three days will be hectic for our department and I request all of you to give your best in these last three four days before we get divested,” Hejmadi said.
Seeking cooperation from the employees, Hejmadi said, “We may have to work late in the night to complete the task given to us. I seek the cooperation of one and all.” A senior Air India official said, “If due to some reason the time of 27 January is postponed then the divestment process has to be done till the end of the month.”