India's finance minister says Air India, Bharat Petroleum sale by March next year

Source: Xinhua| 2019-11-17 18:04:39|Editor: ZX
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NEW DELHI, Nov. 17 (Xinhua) -- Two debt-ridden state-owned companies of India -- Air India and Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited are expected to be sold by the government by March 2020, a local newspaper Times of India reported Sunday.

"We are moving on both with the expectation that we can complete them this year. The ground realities will play out," the newspaper quoted federal Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman as having said.

Air India is crumbling under huge debt and grappling with a financial crisis.

According to the newspaper, Sitharaman said there was a lot of interest in Air India.

In March 2018, the Indian government planned to divest 76 percent stake in Air India. The proposed move, however, failed to take off as the government did not receive any expressions of interest from potential bidders.

The government had ignored a parliamentary panel's recommendation to give the debt-ridden airline five years to revive itself.

Earlier this month Air India chief Ashwani Lohani assured employees that the airline was taking necessary steps to protect their interests. In an open letter to the employees, Lohani said the company's disinvestment will enable its sustainability and help attain the full inherent potential of the national carrier. Lohani's letter had come at a time when employees' unions were planning to stage protest against the government's disinvestment move.

In October this year, the government decided to sell its 53.29 percent stake in Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL).

The sale of these two companies is expected to help the government meet its target of raising around 14 billion U.S. dollars through disinvestments.

Reports said the government will conduct roadshows at global financial centres such as London and Singapore to woo investors for the disinvestment.

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