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Debt-reeling Air India to be sold off in parts

Debt-reeling national airline Air India will not be sold as a single unit, according to sources familiar with the development.

Earlier in the year, the Union Cabinet gave “in-principle” nod to the disinvestment of the national carrier that has a debt of over Rs 50,000 crore. A group of minister are working out the modalities of the process.

According to a report in Moneycontrol, each business of AI will be put out for sale as an “independent” unit, free from the overall debt.

Ever since the announcement of its disinvestment, key players like IndiGo, Tata Sons, Bird Group have expressed their interest in buying the public carrier.

The date for finalising the divestment process has not been fixed, said the sources. Earlier it was also reported that Air India would be sold to “domestic buyers” with individual, profit generating, business arms only.

The government has already invited bids for appointment of legal and financial advisors to expedite the process. The group of ministers looking at the modalities are looking into various aspects like the treatment of unsustainable debts of the national carrier, hiving off certain assets to a shell company and de-merger and strategic disinvestment of three profit-making subsidiaries, among others.

AI’s five subsidiaries include Air India Express Limited (AIEL), Air India Air Transport Service Limited (AIATSL), Air India Engineering Services Limited (AIESL), Airline Allied Service Ltd (AASL) and Hotel Corporation of India (HCI). It also has a joint-venture with Singapore Air Transport Services (SATS) called AISATS.

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