Business & Economy

Tatas back in control of debt-ridden Air India after 69 years

New Delhi, Jan 27 (EFE).- India’s Tata Group Thursday took control of the state-run Air India, the government said, after 69 years of its nationalization and three months after winning the bid to acquire the debt-ridden carrier in a deal worth 180 billion Indian rupees ($2.4 billion).

Tuhin K Pandey, the top official of investment and public asset management, said the “strategic disinvestment” of Air India had concluded with the transfer of 100 percent shares of Air India to the Talace, a subsidiary of Tata Sons, along with management control.

Before the takeover, Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Tata Sons Chairman Natarajan Chandrasekaran in New Delhi.

Tata Sons had emerged as the highest bidder for the government’s 100 percent stake in Air India.

As part of the deal, Tata Sons paid 2.7 billion rupees to the Indian government and took over the airline’s 15.3 billion rupees in debt, the Indian Finance Ministry said in a statement.

The group also acquired 100 percent shares of Air India’s low-cost arm Air India Express, and 50 percent shares of AI SATS, the strategic partner that provides ground handling and cargo services.

Tata Group now controls three airlines in India. It already has majority stakes in budget airline AirAsia India in partnership with AirAsia Group and full-service carrier Vistara, a joint venture with Singapore Airlines.

Air India operates over 4,000 domestic and 2,700 international landing and parking slots in India.

It also has some 900 slots at overseas airports.

However, the deal does not include non-core assets like real estate, valued at 147 billion rupees, which goes to the government-owned Air India Assets Holding Ltd.

Successive Indian federal governments had previously tried to sell the airline that struggled with accumulated losses worth over 700 billion rupees.

However, all previous attempts failed to attract bidders as the government was willing to sell only 76 percent of the stake in the airline with a fleet of nearly 150 planes, including 25 from its subsidiary Air India Express.

The takeover completes a full circle for the carrier that Tata scion JRD Tata had founded in 1932 under Tata Airlines.

In 1953, the government nationalized the carrier that earned the title of “Maharaja of the Skies” in the newly independent country.

Tata Sons President welcomed the airline back to the business group.

“We are excited to have Air India back in the Tata group and are committed to making this a world class airline,” Chandrasekaran said in a statement issued by the company.


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