By Nirbhay Kumar
New Delhi, May 24 (IANS) The government has put top consultancy firm EY to work for divesting its stake in flag carrier Air India and “quickly” issue expression of interest (EoI).
“EY continues to be the transaction advisor for the sale of Air India. We have been directed to close the accounts for FY 2018-19 and provide updated data for EoI to take the disinvestment process forward,” said a senior Air India official.
“Until the transaction gets completed EY is our advisor. They will be paid their fees after disinvestment process is complete. The instruction now is immediately start the process for EoI. Of course, approval of the Union Cabinet will be required for it,” he added.
The development comes close on the heels of Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) directing the Aviation Ministry to speed up the process of strategic disinvestment of Air India and three of its subsidiaries.
In a letter to Air India Chairman Ashwani Lohani, Civil Aviation Secretary Pradeep Singh Kharola had advised to finalise the financials of Air India and its subsidiaries by end of June, 2019.
“Also, the accounts for FY 2018-19 would form the basis of bidding. Therefore, it is necessary that they are prepared with utmost caution so as to reflect the correct financial status,” Kharola had written in the letter which has been reviewed by IANS.
The Aviation Secretary directed the airline to get contingent liabilities and account receivables verified thoroughly besides a physical verification of the inventories. A list of pending litigations is also required to be drawn up.
The government had last year initiated the process to sell majority 74 per cent stake in the national carrier but the plan proved a damp squib with no private investor turning up for the offer.
In view of rising fuel price and weak investment environment, the government had put the process on hold maintaining that it would be taken up after Lok Sabha elections 2019.
(Nirbhay Kumar may be contacted at [email protected])