After Air India, Pawan Hans also gets 'multiple expressions of interest'

The government had ‘in-principle’ decided to disinvest its entire equity shareholding in Pawan Hans along with transfer of management control

After Air India, Pawan Hans also gets 'multiple expressions of interest'
The government holds 51% stake in Pawan Hans. Image courtesy: Wikimedia Commons/Sujay25

The government has received "multiple expressions of interest" for the premier helicopter services company Pawan Hans Limited, Secretary of the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management Tuhin Kanta Pandey said. This comes after another prime aviation asset that the government is determined to sell -- national carrier Air India -- also attracted "multiple expressions of interest", according to Pandey. 

"Multiple expressions of interest have been received for privatisation of Pawan Hans Limited. The transaction will now move to the second stage," Pandey tweeted on February 18, which was the last date for the submission of expressions of interest (EoIs). 

On December 8 last year, the government had ‘in-principle’ decided to disinvest its entire equity shareholding in Pawan Hans by way of strategic disinvestment along with transfer of management control. 

The government owns 51% of the stake in the company, while Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) holds the remaining 49%. 

Also read: After Air India, Pawan Hans seeks suitors now as government plans exit

The ONGC had also decided to offload its entire stake to the successful bidder at the same discovered price per share and on same terms and conditions as agreed by the government, except for the rights available exclusively to the government. "The successful bidder, as identified by GOI, will have the option to buy entire ONGC stake of 49% in PHL on similar price and terms," the PIM stated. 

The deadline for the submission of preliminary bids, which was initially January 19, was pushed back to February 18 in view of prevailing Covid-19 situation and the logistical challenges faced by interested bidders. 

The last date for submission of physical copies for the interested bidders submitting EoIs electronically was also revised from February 3, 2021, to March 5, 2021, by the DIPAM through the first corrigendum to the Preliminary Information Memorandum (PIM) on the strategic sale of Pawan Hans. 

Much like Air India, the government is hoping to get third time lucky with the disinvestment of Pawan Hans. In 2018, the government had offered 51% stake in Pawan Hans but stepped back after ONGC decided to sell its 49% stake too. The second attempt to sell Pawan Hans in 2019 got no response from investors.    

Also read: Pawan Hans swayamvar delayed as Covid-19 scares suitors

Pawan Hans Limited (PHL) is a mini-ratna, category-1 Central public sector undertaking (CPSU) under the administrative control of the ministry of civil aviation (MoCA). It was incorporated under the Companies Act, 1956 on October 15, 1985, to primarily provide helicopter services for the exploration activities of ONGC and to the North East Region of India. 

PHL is India’s leading helicopter company (with the largest fleet size) engaged in providing helicopter services for various purposes such as offshore operations, inter-island transportation, connecting inaccessible areas, pipeline surveillance, casualty and rescue work, charter services, VIP transportation, services under Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) and various other customised services, the PIM mentioned.

Pawan Hans also provided vital support to the Lifeline Udan mission launched by the government on March 26, a day after imposing a nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

The mission aimed at transporting essential cargo and medical supplies to the remotest corners of the country so that the travel bans did not cause panic among the public.

The government has a disinvestment target of Rs 1.75 lakh crore cor 2021-22, PTI reported. This is more than five times what it is aiming to raise in the current fiscal. According to the revised estimates for the current fiscal (2020-21), the disinvestment target has been set at Rs 32,000 crore. 

The government is looking to offload its stake in leading public sector undertakings (PSUs) like Air India, Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL), Shipping Corporation of India, Neelachal Ispat Nigam Limited, Container Corporation of India, BEML and IDBI Bank, apart from Pawan Hans Limited. The strategic disinvestment of these companies is to be concluded in the next fiscal. Besides, initial public offering (IPO) of Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) is planned to be launched, and the strategic sale of two PSU banks and a general insurance company is to be initiated.

(Cover image courtesy: Wikimedia Commons/Sujay25)