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AI’s 76% stake sale plan crashes, other alternatives to be evaluated

We ran a disinvestment process, where we made it very clear what type of bids we were interested in receiving… We asked certain type of bidders with certain bidding criteria to participate.

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Civil Aviation Ministry

New Delhi, June 20 (IANS) The Central government has said that a 76 per cent stake sale process of the national carrier Air India has ended, as “no interest” was shown by bidders, however, it remains committed to the strategic divestment for which other alternatives will be evaluated.

“We ran a disinvestment process, where we made it very clear what type of bids we were interested in receiving… We asked certain type of bidders with certain bidding criteria to participate,” said Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha.

“No body expressed any interest during that process. So just by that set of those circumstances it is clear that that process right now is over… We have to move forward and we have to consider other alternatives, now as market conditions as industry circumstances change, we will evaluate all those alternatives but that particular specific process for the moment has come to an end, if need be, we can restart that or any other process depending upon the appropriate market circumstances.”

However, the government clearly stated that it is still committed to the idea of Air India’s strategic divestment.

Sinha added: “The government is committed to strategic disinvestment, what the modalities are and the circumstances are, we will have to monitor and evaluate as we go along.”

According to the Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu a few days back the Empowered Group of Ministers set up to look at the — Air India Specific Alternate Mechanism — reviewed the situation.

The minister, who holds the charge of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry said: “… Because there was no interest we have decided to review the situation soon. In the meantime to ensure that Air India runs properly a plan is being prepared by the Air India management to ensure that AI continues continues operate efficiently.

On May 31, the Ministry of Civil Aviation said that “no response” was received even during the extended submission deadline for the ‘Expression of Interest’ (EOI) bids under Air India’s divestment process.

“As informed by the Transaction Adviser, no response has been received for the Expression of Interest floated for the strategic disinvestment of Air India,” the ministry had said in a tweet.

“Further course of action will be decided appropriately.”

The government on May 1 had released a detailed document on clarifications sought by interested bidders regarding the divestment process.

The clarification document outlined that net current liabilities as Rs 88.16 billion (Rs 8,816 crore) and “these will remain with AI and AIXL (Air India Express) as these have been incurred in the course of business.”

“After deducting Rs 88,160 mn from Rs 333,920 mn, the remaining figure of INR 245,760 mn is the debt and liability quantum that will remain with AI and AIXL.”

As per the old timelines, the submission deadline for the EOI bids was earlier extended to May 31 and consequently, the date for the “intimation to the Qualified Interested Bidders” — QIB — which was supposed to have been the next stage was slated for June 15.

It was expected that by August-end, the government will be able to determine the highest bidder.

On March 28, the government had issued a Preliminary Information Memorandum (PIM) inviting ‘EOI’ for the strategic divestment of AI, along with the airline’s shares in AIXL and AISATS (Air India SATS Airport Services) from private entities including the airline’s employees.

The Central government owns 100 per cent equity of Air India. In turn, the airline holds full stake in Air India Express, while it holds 50 per cent stake in the joint venture AISATS.

Accordingly, it has been planned to divest 76 per cent government stake in AI, 100 per cent in AIXL and 50 per cent in AISATS.

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HCL 5th among top 10 tech firms that received H1-B certifications in US

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HCL

New Delhi, Feb 16: At a time when the US move to limit H1-B visas has left major tech companies perturbed as it will seriously affect their ability to get and retain talented staff, Indian company HCL has secured 5,085 foreign labour certification for the H-1B work visas.

HCL America had 2.9 per cent share of all foreign labour certification for the H-1B work visas for the first quarter of the fiscal year 2019 that ended December 31, revealed latest H-1B visa statistics by the US Department of Labour.

Deloitte Consulting topped the list with 18,306 H-1B specialist occupation labour certifications, followed by Apple with 16,426 H-1B speciality occupations.

Professional staffing agency KForce was third with 10,292 visa certifications and Amazon.com Services was listed fourth with 5,485 certifications.

Social media giant Facebook was seventh, receiving 4,133 H-1B visa certifications for the quarter.

Others in the top 10 list were Cognizant Technology Solutions, Qualcomm Technologies, Intel Corporation and Oracle America.

Indians are the biggest beneficiaries of the temporary H1-B visas, 76 per cent of which went to professionals from India last year, according to government statistics.

In November, the Trump administration announced changes to the H1-B visa system to give preferences to applicants with advanced degrees.

A total of 85,000 H1-B visas are available each year under regulations imposed by the Congress. Of these, 20,000 are reserved for those graduating with advance degrees from US universities.

Immigration authorities have reportedly intensified their crackdown on H1-B visa fraud and some Indians as well as Indian companies have been caught in it.

One of the immediate concerns for H1-B visa-holders is the Trump administration’s plan to end permission for their spouses – who are on H-4 visas – to work, which had been granted by the administration of former President Barack Obama.

IANS

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Sensex, Nifty open higher

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Sensex equity Nifty

Mumbai, Feb 15: The Sensex gained close to 140 points after opening higher on Friday while the Nifty logged slight gains to trade above the 10,750 mark.

Utilities, oil and gas and power stocks gained on the BSE while key sectors like finance and banking traded lower.

The BSE Sensex opened at 35,985.68 from its previous close at 35,876.22 on Thursday.

At 9.16 a.m., the Sensex traded at 36,014.08 higher by 137.86 points or 0.38 per cent.

The Nifty of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) opened lower at 10,930.90 after closing at 10,943.60 on Thursday.

The Nifty traded at 10,752.15 during the morning trade session, up 6.10 points and 0.06 per cent.

On Thursday, foreign institutional investors (FIIs) were net sellers and the domestic institutional investors (DIIs) were net buyers.

FIIs sold stocks worth Rs 250.23 crore while the DIIs bought stocks to the tune of Rs 1,225.24 crore.

IANS

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Rahul says GST killed Gujarat’s economic base

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Rahul Gandhi

Lal Dungri (South Gujarat), Feb 14 (IANS) Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Thursday established a connect with the crowds here in Gujarat, scoffing at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s development claims in his home state and alleging that GST had killed the state’s small and medium scale businessmen who were its true pillars.

“Sardar ney humko rasta dikhaya tha, Mahatma Gandhi ney rasta dikhaya tha, ab Gujarat ke log firse dikhayenge kaise logon ko ek karte hain, sahi vikas kya hain (Sardar showed us the way, Gandhi showed us the way, now people of Gujarat will once again show how to unite the country, what is real development),” he declared to loud applause.

As the crowds listened in rapt attention, Gandhi made an sentimental appeal: “Gujarat has given immense love and respect to me, I will never forget this. There is nothing bigger for me. I love to come here as many as times as possible. I love the people of Gujarat, I love the food here.”

As the crowds cheered and whistled, he said: “Whenever Gujarat calls me, I will be there. Wherever I am, I promise, whenever you call me I will come.”

Taunting Modi’s ‘Mann Ki Baat’ radio programme, the Congress chief added, addressing the crowd: “You are our masters. The farmers, the tribals, the downtrodden are our masters. Not Anil Ambani, not Nirav Modi, not Vijay Mallya.”

There was loud applause when he referred to Jay Shah, son of BJP President Amit Shah.

“He converted Rs 700 crore black money into white through a cooperative bank (Ahmedabad District Cooperative Bank of which Amit Shah is a director). But Narendra Modi will not speak about this,” he asserted.

Just as Gandhi exhorted the crowds to shout after him “chowkidar chor hai” he said: “Delhi mein kehte hain chor hai, Gujarati mein bolte hain Chor Chhey.” The people broke into huge laughter and some shouted back “mahachor chhey” and “paako chor chhey”.

Gandhi said “Modi’s Gabbar Singh Tax (Goods and Services Tax)” had sounded the death knell of the small and medium scale businessmen who were the true pillars of Gujarat’s economic prowess. And GST came as an insult to injury to the common men after demonetization, he added.

“The UPA government in 2019 will bring real GST, where it will be a truly simple tax and truly one tax, not the present version.”

Gandhi said the Congress brought National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, Food Security Act and a progressive and people-oriented land acquisition law. “And now we are coming with a concept of guaranteed income.

“Under this, money will be directly transferred in your bank account… We have been planning for this for over three to four months.”

Referring to the Bharatmala project, Gandhi said it was “bharat-maara not Bharatmala” through which lands of farmers and poor were being snatched.

He challenged the BJP government to implement the Land Acquisition Act which the UPA government had brought in 2013. “We implemented it in Chhattisgarh immediately after our party came to power. Our government got the Tatas to return thousands of acres of unused land according to the law,” Gandhi added.

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