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The government on Friday approved the sale of its 51% stake in Pawan Hans Ltd to Star9 Mobility Pvt. Ltd for 211.14 crore, completing the divestment process of its shareholding in the helicopter operator.

The alternative mechanism, empowered by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, comprising Union roads and highways minister Nitin Gadkari, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, civil aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia, approved the highest bid of Star9 Mobility for sale of the government’s entire shareholding in Pawan Hans and transfer of management control, the finance ministry said in a statement.

The reserve price for the sale of the Pawan Hans stake was set at 199.92 crore based on the valuation exercise carried out by experts, the statement added. Pawan Hans has a fleet of 41 helicopters, including Dauphin N and N3, MI 172, AS350 and Bell helicopters.

State-run Oil and Natural Gas Corp. Ltd owns the remaining 49% stake in the helicopter operator.

The Pawan Hans stake sale is part of the government’s efforts to raise 65,000 crore from asset sales in the year to 31 March.

The government received three bids for its stake in the helicopter operator with Star9 Mobility, a consortium of Big Charter Pvt. Ltd, Maharaja Aviation Pvt. Ltd and Almas Global Opportunity Fund SPC, emerging as the winning bidder. The other two bids received were for 181.05 crore and 153.15 crore, both below the reserve price.

The divestment of government stake in Pawan Hans comes months after completing a similar process involving the national carrier Air India Ltd for which Tata Group emerged as the winner.

Pawan Hans operates flights for state governments and pilgrimages, besides ONGC. It also offers services for search and rescue operations, VIP transportation, corporate and special charter services, and a few flights under the Centre’s regional connectivity scheme.

The company is expected to report a profit in the current fiscal, the company’s chairman and managing director Sanjeev Razdan had said in an interview. He said that the company recorded an operating profit in FY22 because of cost-cutting measures, including a 15% reduction in employee allowances.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gulveen Aulakh

Gulveen Aulakh is Senior Assistant Editor at Mint, serving dual roles covering the disinvestment landscape out of New Delhi, and the telecom & IT sectors as part of the corporate bureau. She had been tracking several government ministries for the last ten years in her previous stint at The Economic Times. An IIM Calcutta alumnus, Gulveen is fluent in French, a keen learner of new languages and avid foodie.
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