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Monday, 04 December, 2017, 14 : 00 PM [IST]

Air India to be sold as an integrated airline, says govt

According to a report by The Hindustan Times, Air India Ltd’s domestic and international operations will be sold together, and not separately as some potential suitors would want it to be. “What we will be offering through the bidding process is the integrated airline which means international and domestic both,” said Jayant Sinha, Minister of state for aviation. The airline also has subsidiaries such as Air India Express which flies mostly to the Middle East, Alliance Air that runs regional operations as also key units for engineering and ground handling among others, with sizable infrastructure and expertise. Air India’s domestic and international operations are also part of the Star Alliance, the largest airline grouping in the world, while smaller arms are not. Sinha indicated that some subsidiaries could also be sold as part of the main airline and bidders would have the option to make multiple bids.

“We are in the process of working out exactly which subsidiaries will be with the airline and which will be offered separately. Even if they are offered separately, you can bid for each one of them and reintegrate them if you want. So we are providing flexibility in the bidding process,” Sinha said, adding that the transaction adviser will call for multiple bids which includes one for an integrated Air India and the rest for subsidiaries. The entire process of awarding the assets to the successful bidder will be done six-eight months from now and thereafter transfer of assets and legal approvals will follow, he said. Over the next few weeks, transaction adviser E Y will put together a data room and a CIM (confidential information memorandum), said Sinha. A CIM is a document drafted by an advisory firm or an investment banker and used in a sell-side engagement to market a business to prospective buyers after collecting all the information about the company, while a data room is an online warehouse of key documents about the company.

A decision on issues like retaining the Air India brand name, said Sinha, will be part of the terms of sale which are yet to be decided by a group of ministers led by finance minister Arun Jaitley. Among major contenders, IndiGo (InterGlobe Aviation Ltd) and the Tata group have shown interest in the airline. 
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