Govt hasn’t taken any decision on owner of Air India as yet: Piyush Goyal

Govt hasn’t taken any decision on owner of Air India as yet: Piyush Goyal
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Commerce and Industry Minister on Saturday said the government has not taken any decision on so far and the final winner will be selected through a well defined process.


“I have been in Dubai since…day before and I don’t think there is any such decision that has happened at all. Of course bids were invited…and that is assessed by the officers and in due course of time, there is a whole well laid down process through which the final winner will selected,” he told reporters here.


He was replying to a question about media reports stating Tatas have emerged as the top bidder for the takeover of debt-laden


Tuhin Kanta Pandey, Secretary to Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) — the government department responsible for — had said in a tweet on Friday that the Centre has so far not approved any financial bid for


“Media reports indicating approval of financial bids by Government of India in the AI disinvestment case are incorrect. Media will be informed of the Government’s decision as and when it is taken,” he tweeted.


When asked about the proposed free trade agreement with the UAE, he said there are lot of opportunities for Indian businesses in sectors such as textiles, gems and jewellery, pharma and healthcare. There is tremendous potential in both goods and services, he added.


On investments, he said “we have to encourage Indian businesses to engage with the UAE”.


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


September 15 was the last day for putting in financial bids.


Tata Group was among the multiple entities that had put in an initial expression of interest (EoI) in December 2020 for buying the Maharaja.


With previous attempts since 2017 failing to get any significant interest and after receiving feedback from potential investors, the government had in October last year sweetened the EoI clause relating to the transfer of Air India’s debt to the new investor, giving bidders flexibility to decide on the quantum of humongous debt they want to absorb.


As per the Air India EoI floated by DIPAM in January 2020, of the airline’s total debt of Rs 60,074 crore as of March 31, 2019, the buyer would be required to absorb Rs 23,286.5 crore.


The rest would be transferred to Air India Assets Holding Ltd (AIAHL), a special purpose vehicle. Air India has been in losses ever since its merger with domestic operator Indian Airlines in 2007.


The airline will give the successful bidder control of 4,400 domestic and 1,800 international landing and parking slots at domestic airports, as well as 900 slots at airports overseas.


Besides, the bidder would get 100 per cent of the low-cost arm Air India Express and 50 per cent of AISATS, which provides cargo and ground handling services at major Indian airports. 


Meanwhile, India and the UAE on Saturday explored mutually beneficial methods and incentives to facilitate investments from the United Arab Emirates’ sovereign investment entities in key priority sectors in New Delhi.


Both the countries also noted the importance of concluding the negotiation process of amending the UAE and India’s long standing Bilateral Investment Treaty as soon as possible.


These issues came up for discussion during a meeting between Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Member of the Executive Council of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, and Goyal.


Both co-chaired the ninth meeting of the UAE-India High Level Joint Task Force on Investments here.


“At the meeting, discussions were also held on exploring mutually beneficial methods and incentives to facilitate further investment from UAE sovereign investment entities in key priority sectors in India…both sides agreed to continue to focus on ways of providing tax incentives to certain UAE sovereign investment entities,” an official statement said.


Given the importance of air transport in facilitating bilateral ties and people-to-people connections, India and the UAE agreed that their respective civil aviation authorities should continue to work together on a priority basis, for their mutual benefit, to ensure the speedy normalisation of air transport operations.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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