Various parties which have shown interest in the Air India privatisation process, have raised significant and important issue related to the disinvestment and the government will reply to them, Civil Aviation Secretary R N Choubey said on April 26. Without elaborating the type and nature of the issues raised, he said the queries are interesting in nature.
“The only thing I will say is that we have got interesting queries which shows parties concerned have applied their mind and have raised very significant and important issues. We are going to reply to them and we are happy about the buzz the process has created,” he said.
He dismissed apprehensions that the increase in crude oil prices will impact the disinvestment process, saying the “fluctuation in prices on a day to day basis is not something which will determine the saleability of Air India.”
The government has, however, remained tight-lipped about the players who have shown interest in the bidding process and has not made any official statement about the number of queries received so far. Last week, Department of Investment and Public Asset Management Secretary Neeraj Gupta had merely stated there has been good response from various entities in the airline industry as well as the corporate for buying stakes in the debt-ridden national carrier.
The government had last month floated a preliminary information memorandum inviting bidders to buy 76 per cent stake in loss-making Air India along with transfer of management control. Gupta had said that there are no restrictions for private equity and venture funds from participating in strategic disinvestments like Air India.
As per the bid document, bidders would be required to have a minimum net worth of Rs 5,000 crore and should have posted profit after tax (PAT) in three of the previous five financial years from the Expression of Interest (EoI) deadline. The last date for submission of the bids is May 14.