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Minutes after winning bid for Air India was announced, Tata Sons Chairman Emeritus Ratan Tata thanked the union government for its recent policy of opening up select industries to private sector.

"Welcome back, Air India," tweeted Ratan Tata as Tata Sons made a winning bid for the carrier at 18,000 crore.

"The Tata Group winning the bid for Air India is a great news. While admittedly it will take considerable effort to rebuild Air India, it will hopefully provide a very strong market opportunity to the Tata Group in the aviation industry," Ratan Tata said.

After a mammoth gap of 68 years, debt-laden national carrier Air India returned to its founders Tata Sons, ending a decades-long struggle to the divestment.

The transaction is expected to close by the end of December 2021, said Tuhin Kant Pandey, DIPAM Secretary.

Pandey said the government will get 2,700 crore cash from Tatas for sale of its 100% stake.

On an emotional and nostalgic note, Ratan Tata said, Air India under the leadership of J R D Tata had at one time gained the reputation of being one of the most prestigious airlines in the world.

"Tatas will have the opportunity of regaining the image and reputation enjoyed in earlier years. J R D Tata would have been overjoyed if he was in our midst today," he said.

The winning bid by Tatas comprises taking over of 15,300 crore debt and paying the rest in cash.

Under the bid, all Air India employees must be retained by Tata Sons for a period of one year and following which they can either be retained or offered a VRS.

The road to Air India's sale has been a bumpy one. The process began in July 2017 and the government has received 7 expressions of interest by December last year.

For Tata Group, Air India adds a third airline brand to its stable, considering the conglomerate already holds a majority interest in AirAsia India and Vistara.

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