Manu Balachandran is a writer for Forbes India, based in Bengaluru. At Forbes India, Manu writes on automobiles, aviation, pharmaceuticals, banking, infrastructure, economy and long profiles among many others. He also moderates many of Forbes India's CEO and CXO events and hosts Capital Ideas, a podcast on the most riveting success stories from the business world. He has previously worked with Quartz, The Economic Times and Business Standard in Mumbai and New Delhi. Manu has a master's degree in journalism from Cardiff University and a degree in economics from the Loyola College. When not chasing stories, he is most likely obsessing over Formula 1 (Read: Lewis Hamilton), historical events and people, or planning long weekend drives from Bengaluru
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The government in April began proceedings to sell 76 percent stake in the country’s debt-laden national carrier, Air India. It sought a formal expression of interest from private companies in buying the 87-year-old airline that is saddled with a ₹50,000 crore-plus debt. However, despite the early enthusiasm, the sale seems to be hitting a roadblock. So far, the country’s biggest (IndiGo) and second-biggest airline (Jet Airways) by market share have withdrawn from the race.
Much of the roadblock seems to have stemmed from the conditions of the sale document, which mentions that the government would retain 24 percent stake and the winning bidder would be required to stay invested in the airline for at least three years. The buyer cannot merge it with existing businesses as long as the government holds a stake; it will also be required to list Air India. Also, the government wants the winning bidder to take over 61 percent of the debt.
Besides, potential bidders must have a net worth of ₹5,000 crore. Currently only IndiGo meets that requirement. Despite this, at least four international carriers—British Airways, Lufthansa, Etihad and Singapore Airlines (SIA)—have shown interest in the stake sale.