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Tata Sons set to file expression of interest for Air India today

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Tata Sons set to file expression of interest for Air India today

Mumbai: Tata Sons is set to submit an expression of interest (EoI) by Monday deadline to acquire national carrier Air India, after having conducted due diligence, said people aware of the development. After EoI submission, suitors will have access to a virtual data room and all Air India records. Those that qualify will be invited to start making final binding bids from December 28, as the government seeks to get the privatisation programme airborne after failing to sell a majority stake in the loss-making carrier two years ago.“Some final things are being ironed out before the bid is made,” said one of the persons. “This will be a first step to show our intent. Modalities are yet to be worked out.”Tata Sons declined to comment, as did Singapore Airlines (SIA), its partner in carrier Vistara. 79713716SIA Likely to AgreeThe Indian conglomerate has been seeking to persuade its partner to waive a non-compete clause in their JV agreement and partner it in the proposed bid for Air India. Other corporates may also participate, reports said. However, people close to the Adani Group, Vedanta and the Hindujas said they won’t be bidding. At least one domestic airline was interested in bidding but decided not to, after its cash position worsened during the pandemic, said people in the know.The government is said to have assured the Tatas that bureaucratic hurdles will be eased for any takeover.Tata Sons aims to make its final bid through Vistara, consolidating its airline businesses under a single entity, said top executives close to the development. While it’s likely that SIA will give consent, the Tata group may also be prepared to take the tough decision to exit the JV, they said.“Our group chairman has clearly stated that the airline businesses have to be consolidated and there cannot be multiple airlines,” said one of the persons cited above. “Air India being a full-service carrier, it is only sensible that the business come under Vistara, which is a full-service carrier too. We are hopeful that our partner will be willing to participate in future plans that include Air India.” The Tata group is a partner in AirAsia India with AirAsia Bhd of Malaysia, apart from Vistara.The agreement with SIA stipulates that Vistara has exclusive rights to undertake “full-service carrier” services within the overall Tata aviation offering.
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