Tata Group likely to bid for Air India; Adani, Hinduja Group also in fray

Tata Sons is said to have shown interest through its low-budget carrier Air Asia India, where it has a significant majority stake.

New Delhi: Over six decades after its exit, India’s salt-to-software conglomerate Tata Group is likely to submit an expression of interest (EoI) to bid for debt-laden national carrier Air India Limited on Monday. Adani and Hinduja Groups are also weighing bids, unconfirmed reports said.

Air India had its origins in Tata Air Services founded by J.R.D Tata in 1932, later renamed as Tata Airlines. In 1953, the Government of India passed the Air Corporations Act and purchased a majority stake in the carrier from Tata Sons, though J.R.D Tata continued to serve as the chairman till 1977.

Tata Sons is said to have shown interest through its low-budget carrier Air Asia India, where it has a significant majority stake. Besides, the conglomerate also operates a full-service carrier, Vistara, in partnership with Singapore Airlines.

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A group of 200 Air India employees is also likely to file an EoI, the deadline for which ends on Monday (5 pm), and has claimed to have a private financial investor on board, the Times of India reported.

Qualified institutional bidders, if any, will be invited to start bidding for the airline from 28 December, according to the latest government corrigendum.

Union Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri stated on Sunday that the national carrier’s divestment is a “confidential procedure” and that the “concerned department (DIPAM) will comment at the appropriate time.” Puri had said in 2019 that Air India will have to shut down if it’s not privatized.

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The Government of India drew a blank over two years ago to attract bids after putting up 76 per cent of the airline’s stock. The government, this time around, plans to divest 100 per cent of its equity share capital in Air India Limited, which includes Air India’s shareholding interest of 100 per cent in AI Express Ltd. and 50 per cent in Air India SATS Airport Services Private Ltd.

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