Among the bidders for the beleaguered national carrier, Air India, Tatas are now firmly in the saddle, news reports said. The salt-to-software conglomerate, has quoted a higher price than SpiceJet promoter Ajay Singh for Air India Ltd in the preliminary bidding round, according to people aware of the development, LiveMint reported.
Last week, SpiceJet chairman Ajay Singh, who is bidding for national carrier Air India in his personal capacity, has sought a relaxation of bidding rules, according to Times of India.
The transaction to privatise Air India has moved to the financial bids stage and eligible bidders were given access to the Virtual Data Room (VDR) of Air India after analysing the preliminary bids. But Singh is prohibited from the VDR as he is an executive with Spicejet, TOI said quoting sources.
Tatas are ahead because of its experience in managing aviation business, size of airline fleet managed and countries operated in, goodwill among other reasons, LiveMint said quoting sources. Tata already operates two airlines-- full-service carrier Vistara, which is in partnership with Singapore Airlines, and budget airline AirAsia India along with Malaysia's AirAsia Group.
But news reports last week said Air India’s disinvestment process may be delayed further. The stake sale process for the ailing Maharaja is being delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Besides COVID, the process could be delayed due to like physical inspection of assets by potential bidders, Tuhin Kanta Pandey, secretary of the department of investment and public asset management (DIPAM), the nodal agency involved in the divestment process of the national carrier, told LiveMint.
The disinvestment of Air India has already been delayed multiple times due to the pandemic. The government had earlier targeted to sell the loss-making national carrier before March 2021 to achieve its divestment target of FY21.