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This time, no problem in Air India’s divestment: Minister

The net worth for eligible bidders has been relaxed to Rs 3,500 crore from Rs 5,000 crore.

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Hardeep Puri

New Delhi, Feb 17 : Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Monday expressed confidence that this time around, there will be no problem in Air India’s divestment.

He was speaking here at an event held to distribute the “Letters of Appreciation” issued by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the staff of Air India who conducted evacuation operation of stranded Indians from China’s Wuhan city, the epicentre of the Coronavirus outbreak.

The Minister’s comments assume significance since the last attempt to divest stake in Air India had failed.

According to the minister, the divestment process has received a healthy response.

The government expects to complete sale of Air India in the first half of the next fiscal, according to the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM).

Last month, DIPAM had invited an Expression of Interest (EoI) from potential investors for selling 100 per cent of Air India and its stake in two subsidiaries with easy bidding norms of debt and eligibility, in its second attempt to privatise the debt-laden state-run airline.

The deadline for submission of the EoI for 100 per cent divestment in Air India and the airline’s stake in low-cost unit Air India Express and airport services company AISATS is March 17, according to a preliminary information memorandum issued by DIPAM on Monday.

Since the huge debt had proved unattractive for potential bidders, now, the government has relaxed bidding norms to coax investors to buy the airline. The bidding party will have to bear with only Rs 23,286 crore of the total Rs 60,000 crore debt of Air India.

As for eligibility, the lead member of a consortium can have 26 per cent shareholding. The earlier criterion set a holding of 51 per cent in a consortium. The minimum shareholding in a consortium has also been eased to 10 per cent, potentially enabling more entities to bid as part of a consortium.

The net worth for eligible bidders has been relaxed to Rs 3,500 crore from Rs 5,000 crore.

Furthermore, the consolidated business in the past had a mix of real estate and aviation interests.

However, this time, the government is carving out real estate assets and other businesses which are not integral to the core airline business into a separate SPV along with part transfer of certain debt and liabilities (modalities have been worked out) thereby resizing the balance sheet.

The government had earlier struggled to privatise the loss-making airline due to a lack of interest from bidders.

One reason for the failure was that the government was unwilling to fully exit the airline, looking to sell only 76 per cent stake.

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Equity indices rise, Sensex up 700 points

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Sensex equity Nifty

Mumbai, March 31 (The key Indian equity indices traded on a positive note on Tuesday with the BSE Sensex trading over 700 points higher.

The Sensex was above the 29,000 mark while Nifty50 on the National Stock Exchange was around the 8,500 level.

The gains were in tandem with the rise in Asian markets.

At 10 38 a.m., it was trading at 29,171.89, higher by 731.57 points or 2.57 per cent from the previous close of 28,440.32.

It had opened at 29,294.9 and has so far touched an intra-day high of 29,316.80 and a low of 28,667.36

The Nifty was trading at 8,509.15, higher by 228.05 points, 2.75 per cent.

Among the Sensex stocks, the top gainers so far were Infosys, ONGC, HCL Technologies, ITC and Tata Steel, while, IndusInd Bank, Bajaj Finance, Maruti Suzuki and Bharti Airtel were the only losers.

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Corona positive cases from Nizamuddin religious gathering spread across states, 6 dead in Telangana

More than 2,000 delegates, including from Malaysia, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and Kyrgyzstan, attended the congregation of Tablighi Jamaat – a Muslim religious organisation – from March 13 to 15.

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Nizammudin

New Delhi, March 31 : A religious congregation of 2000 people at a mosque in Delhi’s Nizamuddin area which has thrown up several corona positive cases is a ticking time bomb as six of the persons who returned to Telangana have died from the virus and positive cases are emerging from at least five regions including J&K, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and the Andaman and Nicobar islands.

The Telangana Chief Minister’s Office said in a tweet, “Six people from Telangana who attended a religious congregation at Markaz in Nizamuddin area of New Delhi from March 13-15 succumbed after they contracted coronavirus. Two died in Gandhi Hospital while one each died in Apollo Hospital, Global Hospital, Nizamabad and Gadwal.”

The state has intensified its efforts to locate all those who returned from the event and the contact trail.

The suspected outbreak was discovered earlier today in Delhi as it emerged that several hid their travel history to foreign countries and a large congregation was held on March 13-5 at a markaz in Nizamuddin. The area was sealed today and hundreds of those present were whisked away to hospitals.

The Jawaharlal Nehru stadium which otherwise holds sporting events is being prepared for a possible large size quarantine centre in case there is a huge outbreak of the virus. Reports are emerging that COVID-19 cases linked to this gathering are being across the country in J&K, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Andaman and Nicobar and Telangana.

As many as 1,400 people continued to stay at the Tabligh-e-Jamaat’s “Markaz” in Delhi’s Nizamuddin West even after the event.

The Telangana Chief Medical Officer confirmed that six people who attended this congregation have died in Telangana after testing positive for coronavirus. A cleric who was there had died after testing positive for coronavirus in Srinagar last week.

More than 2,000 delegates, including from Malaysia, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and Kyrgyzstan, attended the congregation of Tablighi Jamaat – a Muslim religious organisation – from March 13 to 15.

So now, after the congregation dispersed, those who had gathered have gone in different directions and six have died in Telangana.

This constitutes a mammoth health risk for those present and others who may have come in contact or are even now coming into contact through transit.

Sooner or later, it is feared this may be a form of community transmission as infected people move in different directions.

This is so symptomatic of the virus spread where even once infected person can pass it onto hundreds of others.

Jammu and Kashmir where many of these people returned is already on alert. The district administration in all ten districts have fanned out teams to trace those who might not have disclosed their travel history or contact history with Tabligi Jamaat.

Another worrying strand that has emerged is that the list of those who attended the Tablighi Jamaat event in Nizamuddin from Jammu & Kashmir is huge. Clearly, many of them are not in quarantine yet and the administration and police are making efforts to identity, trace and isolate.

It is learnt that the government has prepared a 50 page list of people from J&K who attended the congregation or came in contact with those. Efforts are being made to identify these people and isolate them.

District magistrates in different districts of Kashmir have issued a strong warning today evening to those who have entered the Valley after March 1 and have not so far revealed their travel history to the authorities.

The order issued today evening by the various district magistrates said all those who entered the Valley after March 1 with travel history abroad, outside the Valley or association with members of the Tabligi group are given the last chance to report to the authorities within two days failing which they could face imprisonment under the provisions of the disaster management act, 2005.

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Infosys Foundation commits Rs 100 crore to fight Covid-19

Half of the donation, Rs 50 crore has been committed to the PM Cares Fund.

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narayana murthy

Bengaluru, March 30 : Infosys Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the software company, On Monday onated Rs 100 crore to fight Covid-19.

“These are unprecedented times that require every section of the society to rise up to the challenge,” said Sudha Murty, Chairperson, Infosys Foundation in a statement.

Half of the donation, Rs 50 crore has been committed to the PM Cares Fund.

The foundation has identified three broad areas to which the balance funds will be directed to: expanding hospitals capacity to treat Covid-19 patients, providing ventilators, test kits and personal protective equipment, and to ensure access to food and nutrition for the underprivileged.

“All our efforts will be targeted towards ensuring that the relief material reaches the people who need it the most, whether it is a patient who cannot afford treatment, our healthcare personnel, or daily-wage workers whose livelihood has been severely impacted,” Murty said.

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