Centre to initiate Air India’s disinvestment process soon

The Centre is likely to issue the expression of interest (EoI) and the Share Purchase Agreement (SPA) for Air India’s disinvestment early next week.With the losses of the airline mounting, the disinvestment of Air India is among the top priorities of NDA 2.0 government. Sources said that the expression of interest and the SPA are likely to be in public domain by next week.

The proposal for disinvestment was approved in a group of ministers (GoM) meeting recently on January 7 headed by Union Home Minister Amit Shah. Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Commerce Minister and Railways minister Piyush Goyal and Civil Aviation minister Hardeep Puri were also part of that meeting.

Sources said to attract investors, government has also approved major debt transfer of the national carrier to a special purpose vehicle (SPV). They said that nearly 80 per cent of total debt will be transferred and the government is likely to keep only Rs 10,000crore debt in the airline’s books. Earlier, nearly Rs 29,400 crore was transferred to the SPV.

Air India chief Ashwani Lohani had recently said that rumours of disinvestment are all baseless. In 2018, the Centre had proposed to sell 76 per cent equity share capital as well as transfer the management control to private players but was unsuccessful.

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