New Delhi: With the government pushing for the disinvestment of Air India, industrial conglomerate Adani Group may emerge as one of the bidders for the debt-laden national carrier, sources said.
According to highly placed sources group has held internal rounds of deliberations on whether or not to submit an Expression of Interest (EoI) and that the discussions are still in the preliminary stage.
If the company actually submits an EoI, it would be a major move towards further diversification of the company which has business interests across sectors right from edible oil, food to mining and minerals.
It also entered into airport operations and maintenance business and won bids for privatisation of six airports, Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Jaipur, Guwahati, Thiruvanathapuram and Mangaluru in 2019.
On being contacted by IANS, the company did not comment on the matter.
Air India is one of the most important divestment target for the current fiscal to reach the huge Rs 2.1 lakh crore target.
The government in January restarted the divestment process of the airline and invited bids for selling 100 per cent of its equity in the state-owned airline, including Air India's 100 per cent shareholding in AI Express Ltd. and 50 per cent in Air India SATS Airport Services Private Ltd.
After its unsuccessful bid to sell Air India in 2018, the government this time has decided to offload its entire stake. In 2018, it had offered to sell its 76 per cent stake in the airline.
Of the total debt of Rs 60,074 crore as of March 31, 2019, the buyer would be required to absorb Rs 23,286 crore.
Air India, along with its subsidiary Air India Express, has a total operational fleet of 146 airplanes.
Further, the disinvestment department has extended the last date for submission of written queries on the Performance Information Memorandum and Share Purchase Agreement to March 6.
The last date for submission of written queries on PIM and SPA was originally set for February 11, following which the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) on February 21 issued 20 clarifications on the queries raised and expected.
Any delay in the tentatively rolled out timeline would also delay the DIPAM's plan to identify the pre-qualified bidders by March 31 and the financial bids invitation as well. It is expected to take more than 2 months after the selection of the pre-qualified bidders to complete Air India's sale.
Mandi House prime property
The Adani Group will acquire a prime residential property near Mandi House in New Delhi after winning a bid to acquire Aditya Estates.
Adani won the bid through an insolvency process for a total deal value of Rs 400 crore. Aditya Estates holds a 3.4 acre of prime residential property near Mandi House. By all accounts, it is a bargain deal as similar properties have fetched a much higher price.
The principal bench of the National Company Law Tribunal has approved the resolution plan of Adani Properties to acquire Aditya Estates for Rs 265 crore. Another Rs 135 crore would go towards meeting the statutory charges, taking the total deal value to Rs 400 crore.
Aditya Estates's committee of creditors, led by ICICI Bank UK Plc, had already approved by 93.01 percent vote share Adani's Rs 400 crore offer, including an upfront payment of Rs 265 crore.
According to the list of applicants submitted in June last year, nine applicants had shown their interests for the property, including N R Narayana Murthy, Malvinder Singh, Anil Rai Gupta, Paras Pramod Agarwal, Dalmia Cement (Bharat), Veena Investments, Welspun Logistics, Adani Properties and Panch Tatva Promoters.
However, only two of them - Adani Properties and Veena Investments - had submitted their resolution plans.
The CoC rejected the Rs 225 crore offer from Veena Investments as it found it to be non-compliant and conditional. Besides, it did not take into account any liability that may arise from New Delhi Municipal Corporation for house tax, sales tax and income tax in the future.
Aditya Kumar Jajodia, a shareholder of Aditya Estates, challenged the insolvency proceedings against the firm in NCLAT but his plea was rejected.