Re-boarding after 68 years, Tata Sons wins bid to acquire Air India

NEW DELHI: In 1953, Air India was nationalised and the airlines that was founded by Jehangir Ratanji Dadabhoy (JRD) Tata became the national carrier and government property. 68 years later Tata's have once again acquired what had belonged to them as it won the bid to acquire the now debt-laden and loss-making airlines. 

A special purpose vehicle (SPV) Tata's arm Talace Pvt Ltd has emerged as the winning bidder after quoting an enterprise value of Rs 18,000 crore beating the bid by the only other in the fray, SpiceJet promoter Ajay Singh. 

Tuhin Kanta Pandey, the secretary to the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM), the government department responsible for privatisation made the announcement that Tata Sons beat SpiceJet promoter to bag Air India and that the government will take a hit of Rs 28,844 crore of the colossal debt that the airlines had been plagued with over the years.

Pandey said that Tatas’ bid of Rs 18,000 crore included taking over of Rs 15,300 crores of debt and paying the rest in cash. Both the bidders had quoted above the reserve price, he said, adding that the transaction was planned to be closed by December. 

Pandey added that a group of ministers – comprising Home Minister Amit Shah, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal and Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia – had cleared the winning bid for Air India on October 4. 

The Tatas will own 100% stake in AirIndia, 100% in its international low-cost arm AirIndia Express and 50% in the ground handling joint venture, AirIndia SATS. The airline comes with a fleet of 141 planes and access to a network of 173 destinations including 55 international ones.

Along with the company, fleet and the infrastructure, Tatas will also have the ownership of iconic brands like AirIndia, Indian Airlines and the Maharajah.

As said, this win marks the return of Air India to the Tatas. JRD had founded the airline in 1932 when it was called Tata Airlines then. In 1946, the aviation division of Tata Sons was listed as Air India, and in 1948, Air India International was launched with flights to Europe. The international service was among the first public-private partnerships in India, with the government holding 49 per cent, the Tatas keeping 25 per cent and the public owning the rest. 


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