Air India, Bharat Petroleum to be sold by March: Nirmala Sitharaman
New Delhi : Debt-ridden Air India and Bharat Petroleum will be sold by the government by March next year, said Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. The statement from the Finance Minister comes at a time when Air India is sitting on a debt pile of around Rs. 58,000 crore.
"We are moving on both with the expectation that we can complete them this year. The ground realities will play out," Nirmala Sitharaman told the Times of India
A couple of weeks back, Air India chairman Ashwani Lohani, had written an open letter to the Air India employees saying that divestment may enable the company to sustain.
For Air India, there is a "lot of interest" among investors, Ms Sitharaman said.
Recently, the cabinet approved changes in the process of disinvestment where the prospective bidders will be heard in roadshows before the expressions of interest (EoIs) are floated so that concerns of the prospective buyers are addressed.
In the last financial year, Air India had posted an operational loss of Rs 4600 crores mainly due to higher oil prices and forex losses but the debt-laden carrier expects to turn operationally profitable in 2019-20, according to senior officials.
In the case of Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL), a group of secretaries had agreed for the sale of the government's entire 53.29 per cent stake in the company in October.
Bharat Petroleum has a market capitalisation of about Rs. 1.02 lakh crore. With the sale 53 per cent of its stakes, the government is hoping to mop up around Rs. 65,000 crore including any entry premium. That can take care of major part of the sell-off target.