Air India Disinvestment – Tata, SpiceJet Promoter Submit Bids To Acquire

The government on Wednesday said it has received multiple financial bids for buying national carrier Air India. Meanwhile, a Tata Sons spokesperson told PTI that it has put in a bid for the airline.

“Financial bids for Air India disinvestment received by Transaction Adviser. Process now moves to concluding stage,” DIPAM Secretary Tuhin Kanta Pandey tweeted.

The government is seeking to sell 100 per cent of its stake in the state-owned national airline, including Air India’s 100 per cent shareholding in AI Express Ltd and 50 per cent in Air India SATS Airport Services Private Ltd.

The stake sale process, which begun on January 2020, faced delays due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In April 2021, the government asked potential bidders to put in financial bids.

Though Tatas have confirmed their participation in the financial bid, sources said that the promoter of domestic carrier SpiceJet, Ajay Singh may also have placed the bids for the debt-ridden carrier. The Tatas bid was much-anticipated as its name had been doing the rounds for some time now.

The government has of late taken several steps to fast-track the much-delayed privatisation of the national carrier. Recently, the government decided to waive taxes on the transfer of assets from the national carrier to Air India Assets Holding Ltd, a special purpose vehicle (SPV).

“The Central Government hereby specifies that no deduction of tax shall be made under section 194-IA of the said Act on any payment made to the Air India Ltd for transfer of immovable property to Air India Assets Holding Ltd under a plan approved by the Central Government,” a notification said.

Further, the CBDT also allowed new owners of erstwhile public sector companies to carry forward losses and set these off against future profits, in a bid to raise more interest for the proposed privatisation processes.

During the Budget speech for FY22, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said that all the proposed privatisation process would be completed by the end of the fiscal, including the much-delayed strategic disinvestment of Air India.

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