The Indian government has received “multiple" Expressions of Interest (EOI) for the privatisation of state-owned Pawan Hans Helicopters (Delhi Int'l) (PHL), according to a Twitter post by Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) Secretary Tuhin Kanta Pandey.

“The transaction will now move to the second stage,” he announced.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and consequent logistical challenges faced by interested bidders, DIPAM earlier extended the deadline for EOI submissions from January 19 to February 18; and the deadline for late submissions from February 3 to March 5, 2021. The government’s deadline for the intimation to shortlisted bidders which had been due on February 17 was deleted.

The second stage timelines are to be provided as part of the Request for Proposals (RFP), according to the Preliminary Information Memorandum issued by the transaction advisor SBO Capital Markets Limited on December 8, 2020.

This is the government’s fourth attempt to exit the helicopter business following failed efforts in 2017, 2018, and 2019. This time, the government and the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), which have a 51% and 49% share in the company respectively, are trying to sell their entire stakes, in total valued at INR11.17 billion rupees (USD151.9 million).

Pawan Hans’s total equity and liabilities, including debt, were worth INR13.03 billion (USD176.76 million) as of March 31, 2020, almost matched by its assets. The company was in the red for the past two years with losses of INR530 million (USD7.2 million) in FY19 and INR230 million (USD3.1 million) in FY2020 (excluding losses of Rohini Heliport which is not part of the proposed transaction).

In the Union Budget 2021-22, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced that the disinvestment of state-owned Air India (AI, Mumbai Int'l) and Pawan Hans would be completed in 2021-22.

DIPAM deals with all matters relating to the management of central government investments in equity including disinvestment of equity in central public sector undertakings.