With the seizure of Air India (AI, Mumbai Int'l) aircraft remaining a threat from Cairn Energy and Devas Multimedia, Tata Sons - one of two final bidders for the heavily indebted flag carrier - may ask the Indian government for an indemnity clause to be included in the privatisation deal to protect itself from unexpected claims, “top officials close to the development” have told the Economic Times.

Such a clause in the final contract would protect the conglomerate from recent claims the two aggrieved companies have filed in recent months, hunting for Air India’s - and thereby the government’s - assets overseas.

Given that indemnity may be limited in terms of time and value, the group may also ask for a state guarantee against any pre-acquisition claims that the airline faces, according to the sources.

Tata Sons has emerged as the favourite bidder for Air India, ahead of SpiceJet CEO Ajay Singh, as it reportedly quoted a higher price in the preliminary bidding round. An unnamed official told the financial daily that the group had assembled a team comprising M&A specialists from affiliated entities such as Vistara, AirAsia India, Tata Steel, and Indian Hotels Company to pore over minute details and complete the transaction.

“This is a massive and complicated exercise. But we have done complicated M&A deals with the government in the past [...] which gives us the knowledge and understanding to handle such issues,” a Tata official said giving the examples of telecommunications company VSNL, now known as Tata Communications, and Bhushan Steel, now Tata Steel.

Tata Sons and Air India were not immediately available for comment.