New Delhi: The Centre on Friday declared Tata Sons’ subsidiary Talace as the highest bidder for national carrier Air India under the divestment process. The Tatas’ subsidiary quoted Rs 18,000 crore of enterprise value for Air India, Divestment Secretary Tuhin Kanta Pandey announced.
There were only two bidders in the final stage of divestment. Besides, the Tatas’ subsidiary, the second bidding entity was a consortium led by industrialist Ajay Singh.
Notably, conglomerate Tata Sons was touted to be the front-runner to get hold of the carrier.
Meanwhile media reports suggest that Tata Sons has won the bid to acquire national carrier Air India on Friday. The Tata Sons placed a winning bid of ₹ 18,000 crore re-acquire the airline more than half a century after it ceded control to the government. Apart from 100 per cent stake in Air India and its low-cost arm, Air India Express, the winning bid also includes a 50 per cent stake in ground-handling company Air India (SATS) Airport Services Private Limited (AISATS).
As on August 31, 2021, Air India has a total debt of ₹ 61,562 crore, out of that ₹ 15,300 will be taken over by the bidder. So, ₹ 46,262 crore will be transferred to Air India Assets Holding Limited (AIAHL). AIAHL is a SPV formed by the government.
Meanwhile, Chairman Emeritus Tata Sons Ratan N Tata said in a tweet, “Welcome back, Air India.” He also shared a photo with an emotional note. In the note, he thanked the government for encouraging the private sector.
Civil Aviation Secretary Rajiv Bansal said that the winning bidder will not retrench any employee for minimum period of one year and if retrenched after a year, they will have to be offered VRS (voluntary retirement scheme). Gratuity and Provident Fund (PF) benefits will be provided to all employees, he added.
Mr Bansal also mentioned, “As of today, there are 12,085 employees in Air India out of which 8,084 are permanent and 4,001 are contractual. Besides this, Air India Express has a employee strength of 1,434.”
Earlier this month both Tata Sons and SpiceJet chairman Ajay Singh (in his private capacity) had placed bids. Reports last month that Tata had won the bid were played down by Union Minister Piyush Goyal, who said then that nothing had been finalised.
In December 2020, the government invited expressions of interest for the divestment of Air India.