Mumbai: Travel services firm Thomas Cook (India) Ltd is among several companies interested in buying state-owned lender IFCI Ltd’s 26.09% stake in Tourism Finance Corp. of India Ltd (TFCI), two people aware of the development said.

TFCI provides financial assistance to enterprises for setting up and developing tourism-related projects, facilities and services. It started operations in 1989. In May, the IFCI board approved a proposal to sell its entire stake in TFCI.

“The stake sale process has seen interest from a few buyers. Thomas Cook is one of the interested parties. The talks are on, but could be awhile before anything is concluded," said one of the two people cited above, requesting anonymity, as he is not authorized to speak to the media.

At the current market price, the stake sale will fetch IFCI around Rs250 crore. On Monday, TFCI’s shares closed at Rs120.40 on the BSE, down 2.15%, valuing the company at Rs971.83 crore.

A spokesperson for IFCI declined to comment on the stake sale. “We do not comment on rumours and unsubstantiated reports," said a spokesperson for Thomas Cook (India).

The stake sale in TFCI is part of IFCI’s broader asset -monetization plan. The divestments have been prompted by the deteriorating asset quality at IFCI. The lender reported a gross non-performing asset ratio of 35% as of 30 June.

For 2016-17, the lender saw its standalone revenue drop to Rs2,739.7 crore from Rs3,818.5 crore in the previous year. It reported a loss of Rs458.4 crore in fiscal 2016-17, as against a profit of Rs337.4 crore a year ago.

In February, PTI reported that IFCI is seeking to sell stakes in four associate firms as part of its strategy to focus on its core business of term lending. The four associate firms in which IFCI intends to sell stakes include TFCI, Himachal Consultancy Organization Ltd, North India Technical Consultancy Organisation Ltd and KITCO (formerly Kerala Industrial and Technical Consultancy Organisation).

The board of IFCI has also approved the sale of its entire 45.5% stake in Hardicon Ltd, another associate firm.

The lender has also sold part of its stake in India’s biggest stock exchange National Stock Exchange of India Ltd (NSE).

In June 2016, IFCI sold NSE shares worth Rs89 crore, bringing its stake in the stock exchange down to 3.1%. IFCI’s divestment of NSE stake was the lender’s fourth such sale since September 2015.

In September 2015, Mint reported that the company sold a part of its holdings in NSE for Rs263.25 crore to US-based fund Deccan Value Investors Lp.

TFCI’s activities range from tourism-related services to financial assistance for setting up development of tourism-related activities, tourist-flow surveys, facilities and services for tourists, preparation of tourism master plans, to individual tourism products; from project evaluation exercises to support services for privatization; from planning for amusement or nature parks etc. to undertaking of environmental and carrying-capacity studies.

TFCI acts as an investment catalyst for the tourism sector and has cumulatively sanctioned assistance aggregating Rs9,614.28 crore up to 31 March 2017.

Apart from IFCI, other major shareholders in TFCI are Life Insurance Corp of India and Bank of India.

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