Air India disinvestment process moving ‘quite well’: Jaitley

Time & Us
Last Updated: September 22, 2017 at 10:32 pm

Mumbai: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Friday the process for Air India disinvestment is moving “quite well” and transaction advisors would be appointed soon.

To revive the loss-making Air India, the government has decided on strategic disinvestment of the national carrier and its five subsidiaries.

Jaitley, who is heading the ministerial group set up to decide on the modalities of the disinvestment, said the panel held a couple of meetings and that transaction advisors would be appointed soon.

About the disinvestment process, he said: “I think it is moving quite well”, adding that transaction advisors would tell the government about the universe of bidders.

“It is a case where once we have a feel of the market and the universe of bidders, then you decide what your terms of bidding are going to be. And then we work alternative strategies in place,” the minister said at an event in Mumbai.

“I think once we get into the a realisation of the universe of bidders and what the likely response would be, we will settle the terms and ask for further movement on this,” he said.

Jaitley said there have been a number of meetings of the ministerial panel and committee of secretaries on how to deal with the main company and the five subsidiaries. “We have worked up those,” he added.

To a query on why the government wants to sell the national carrier, Jaitley said, “always remember, privatisation is the art of the possible”.

It is an exercise which has to be transparent, acceptable to a cross section of public and political opinion. It is an exercise which will then result in a better performance itself, he noted.

“The prospective buyer or the universe of buyers must be such that their identity itself inspires confidence,” he said.

Last week, the government invited applications for engaging up to two advisers and a legal adviser for the strategic disinvestment of Air India and its subsidiaries/ joint venture.

On June 28, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) had given in-principle approval for strategic disinvestment of Air India and five of its subsidiaries.

Air India has huge debt burden and is staying afloat on taxpayers’ money.