Modi govt likely to approve Air India sale to Tata soon

New Delhi: Despite the media reports confirming Air India sale to Tata Sons, the  Indian government  has yet to formally announce the deal divesting the national carrier.

But yes, reports that Home Minister Amit Shah is soon expected to give its approval to the sale to Tata Sons after the conglomerate emerged as the frontrunner to acquire the loss making airline.

The committee nod will be followed by an approval from the Union Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It has been learned that both these processes are expected to be completed within a week even as the final negotiations take place between representatives from the government, the airline, and Tata Sons.

The empowered group of ministers led by Shah is known as the Air India-Specific Alternative Mechanism (AISAM). It also includes Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal, and Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia.

As reported earlier, Tata Sons may be willing to pick up around 15 percent of the airline’s debt load.

The government, as part of its current attempt to sell off its 100 percent stake in Air India, had changed the bidding norms in October 2020 and sought bids based on enterprise value. According to the new plan, the successful bidder does not have to absorb any predetermined debt. Air India has a net debt of around Rs 60,000 crore.

Economic Times adds that Tata Sons proposes to bring low-fare airline AirAsia India under the Air India umbrella. Malaysia’s AirAsia Bhd, which owns about 16% of AirAsia India, will exit by March 2022, selling its remaining stake. At a later stage, full service carrier Vistara is also likely to be part of a combined entity if Singapore Airlines, its 49% shareholder, comes on board.

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