Non-Indian firms now able to bid for majority stake in Air India

India changes rules to allow non-Indian firm to make bid for a majority stake in national carrier Air India
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India has amended its foreign direct investment (FDI) rule related to civil aviation sector to allow non-resident Indians (NRIs) to own 100% of Air India, Arabian Business reported.

FDI in Air India is currently capped at 49%. The amended FDI rule was approved by the Indian cabinet on Wednesday.

The FDI rule tweak is done at a time when India has invited global bids to privatise the debt-ridden Air India.

The last date for submission of Expression of Interest (EoI) for the carrier is 17 March.

The government intends to sell its 100% stake in Air India this time around, as its earlier attempt to sell 74% stake had failed.

Along with Air India, a 100% stake in its low-cost arm Air India Express and 50% in ground handling joint venture AI-SATS would also be offered to the potential bidder.

Under the latest disinvestment plan, the successful bidder would have to take over only debt worth about $3.2 billion out of about $8 billion total liabilities of Air India.

In January, it was reported that IndiGo and Etihad were considering bids for a stake in Air India.

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