The government has again extended the deadline to bid for Air India by two months till August 31 as the COVID-19 fallout has disrupted economic activities globally.
This is the third time the deadline has been extended.
The divestment process for the national carrier was initiated on January 27.
Issuing a corrigendum to the Expression of Interest (EoI) for the sale of Air India, the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) said the deadline has been extended in view of the “request received from the IBs (interested bidders) in view of the prevailing situation arising out of COVID-19.”
Also, the date for intimation to Qualified Interested Bidders (QIBs) has been extended by two months till September 14, the DIPAM said in the corrigendum posted on its website.
“Further changes with respect to the Important Dates, if any, will be communicated to the Interested Bidders subsequently,” it added.
The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have disrupted economic activities globally.
The aviation sector has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, with airlines cancelling flights and announcing pay cuts for employees.
The government has already extended the time given to investors to bid for its entire 52.98% stake in Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL) to July 31. The initial deadline was May 2, which was extended till June 13.
After its unsuccessful bid to sell Air India in 2018, the government in January 2020 restarted the divestment process and invite bids for selling 100% equity in the State-owned airline, including Air India’s 100% shareholding in AI Express Ltd and 50 per cent stake in Air India SATS Airport Services Private Ltd.
In 2018, the government had offered to sell 76% stake in the airline.
Of the airline’s total debt of ₹ 60,074 crore as of March 31, 2019, the buyer would be required to absorb ₹ 23,286.5 crore, while the rest would be transferred to Air India Assets Holding Ltd (AIAHL), a special purpose vehicle.
For the current fiscal, the Budget has pegged disinvestment proceeds at Rs 2.10 lakh crore. This includes ₹ 1.20 lakh crore from CPSE share sales and Rs 90,000 crore from share sales in public sector banks and financial institutions, including listing of insurance behemoth LIC.
The government has already kickstarted the process of selection of transaction advisor for the initial public offering (IPO) of Life Insurance Corporation.