The government aims to complete the privatisation of the national carrier in the next fiscal.(PTI Photo/Ravi Choudhary)(PTI)
The government aims to complete the privatisation of the national carrier in the next fiscal.(PTI Photo/Ravi Choudhary)(PTI)

Air India staff’s takeover plan fails to make the cut

  • Meenakshi Mallik, the airline’s commercial director who spearheaded the ambitious attempt to take over the state-run carrier, said in a three-page letter to employees that the consortium was not shortlisted.
By Kalpana Pathak, Rhik Kundu
PUBLISHED ON MAR 09, 2021 06:06 AM IST

A consortium of Air India employees that placed an expression of interest (EoI) in the privatisation of the national carrier has failed to qualify for the next round.

Meenakshi Mallik, the airline’s commercial director who spearheaded the ambitious attempt to take over the state-run carrier, said in a three-page letter to employees that the consortium was not shortlisted.

“As of late last night, I have seen an email from the transaction adviser to the government of India (Ernst & Young LLP), informing the Employees of Air India that we have been unsuccessful in qualifying to the next phase of the ‘Disinvestment Acquisition process’,” she said.

The letter spelt out three reasons behind the disqualification of the employees’ bid. These are: non-submission of required three years audited financial statements for foreign consortium member, non-submission of information or details by interested bidders for investments in offshore companies, which forms a substantial part of the net worth of the foreign consortium member, and the foreign consortium member not being an appropriately regulated foreign investment fund as defined in the preliminary information memorandum.

“It was upsetting to read this, but what I found reassuring is that the government had no objection or reservation with any of the documentation furnished on behalf of the employees,” Mallik said in her letter, adding that, “this can only mean that the employees’ documentation was, in fact, perfect, which is a clear reflection of not just our sincerity in the process but also of our competence to have participated and, if selected, to run our airline,” Mallik said.

“While it is flattering to note that many wanted to associate themselves with us, we were, in fact, partnered with a financial fund based out of the Republic of Seychelles and dealt exclusively with it through the disinvestment process,” she said.

The Tata group, which owns a 51% stake each in full-service airline Vistara and budget carrier AirAsia India, has also placed an expression of interest (EoI) for the cash-strapped carrier. Ajay Singh, the promoter of budget airline SpiceJet Ltd, is also said to be in the race. The outcome of their EoIs could be immediately ascertained.

The government aims to complete the privatisation of the national carrier in the next fiscal. The department of investment and public asset management (Dipam), which works under the finance ministry, said in February that the identity of potential bidders will be kept confidential with the transaction adviser.

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