Govt to sell 100% stake in Air India
In a major decision, the government on Monday announced sale of 100 per cent stake in beleaguered Air India as it issued the preliminary bid document for the strategic disinvestment and kept March 17 as the deadline for submitting expression of interest. In less than two years, the government has come out with proposal for the second time for selling stake in the distressed airline that has been in the red for quite some time.

As part of the strategic disinvestment, Air India would also sell 100 per cent stake in low-cost airline Air India Express and 50 per cent shareholding in joint venture AISATS, as per bid document issued on Monday. Management control of the airline would also be transferred to the successful bidder.

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The government has set March 17, as the deadline for submitting the expression of interest (EoI).

Air India along with Air India Express is a "great asset", said Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, adding "Successful bidder will continue to use Air India brand."

AISATS is an equal joint venture between Air India and Singapore Airlines. It offers ground handling services.

Air India also has interests in Air India Engineering Services, Air India Air Transport Services, Airline Allied Services and Hotel Corporation of India.

These entities are in the process of being transferred to a separate company -- Air India Assets Holding Ltd (AIAHL) -- and would not be a part of the proposed transaction, the document said.

According to the document, debt of Rs 23,286.5 crore would remain with Air India and Air India Express at the time of closing of the disinvestment.

The remaining debt would be allocated to AIAHL.

A person in the know of PIM details said staff would be given shares on discount under Employee Stock Option Programme (ESOP).

Air India staff will be offered three per cent of the airline's total shares in the government's disinvestment process.

About 98 crore shares would be set aside under the ESOP, the person said.

As on November 1, 2019, Air India and Air India Express had 16,077 employees on their rolls, including permanent people.

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EY is the transaction adviser for Air India disinvestment process.

In 2018, the government proposed to offload 76 per cent equity share capital of the national carrier as well as transfer the management control to private players. However, there were no bidders.