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As many as seven firms, including KPMG, BNP Paribas and Rothschild India Pvt Ltd, are jostling with each other to advise the government for the strategic sale of Air India and its subsidiaries. The other entities that have applied to act as transaction adviser for the share sale are EY, Grant Thornton, Edelweiss and ICICI Securities, according to an update posted on the website of the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM). The Cabinet, in June, had decided on strategic disinvestment of the loss-making Air India, which is staying afloat on taxpayers' funds, and a ministerial panel is working on the modalities. Seven law firms, including Hammurabi and Solomon Partners, Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas, have applied to act as legal advisers in the share sale. Besides, Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas, Crawford Bayley and Co, Luthra and Luthra, ALMT Legal and Trilegal have thrown their hat into the ring. These firms will make a presentation before the DIPAM on Friday. The DIPAM, in September, had invited applications for engaging up to two advisers and a legal adviser for the strategic disinvestment of Air India and its subsidiaries and joint venture. The government has 'in-principle' decided to disinvest the Air India group as a whole or its constituents fully or part thereof through the strategic sale with transfer of management control. Air India has a debt burden of more than Rs 50,000 crore. The transaction advisers would suggest the government on the modalities and methods and the timing of the strategic disinvestment of the Air India group. Besides, they would help in preparing and submitting a detailed operational scheme to successfully implement the disinvestment process, indicating tentative timelines for each activity. Among others, the advisers would also have to provide advise on post-sale matters, if any, for a period of up to 12 months. Under a turnaround plan approved by the previous UPA regime, Air India is to receive up to Rs 30,231 crore from the government subject to meeting certain performance thresholds. The 10-year bailout package began from 2012. So far, the embattled carrier has received around Rs 26,000 crore under the package. The Air India group has operations 42 international destinations and over 70 domestic stations.
It has an operating fleet of 142 aircraft. In the current fiscal, the government plans to raise Rs 72,500 crore by way of disinvestment. Of the total amount, around Rs 11,000 crore is to come from listing of insurance companies and Rs 15,000 crore via strategic stake sale in PSUs.