3rd EoI date extension casts doubt on Pawan Hans disinvestment

3rd EoI date extension casts doubt on Pawan Hans disinvestment

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Pawan Hans helicopter. (File Photo: IANS)
New Delhi, Sep 24 (IANS) Poor investor appetite has once again forced the government to extend the deadline for submission of EOI for public sector chopper operator Pawan Hans Helicopters Ltd (PHHL).
Industry experts said that despite no takers for the helicopter company the government had repeatedly put it on the block and it has now started hurting it.
"It is the government that needs to come up with strategy for PHHL but disinvestment is clearly not working. It has not worked in the past and hence by repeatedly making attempts to sell is merely devaluing it," said Mark Martin, founder of aviation advisory Martin Consulting.
This is third extension since July this year after a Preliminary Information Memorandum (PIM) for strategic disinvestment was floated to invite interest from global players. The new deadline for the initial bidding is September 26, 2019.
The central government wants to offload its entire 51 per cent stake in the leading helicopter company along with management control. SBI Caps is the transaction advisor for the strategic disinvestment of the company.
While the government holds 51 per cent stake in the company, the remaining 49 per cent stake is with the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC). The entire 100 per cent stake in Pawan Hans is on the block.
Officials estimate that if the sale process goes through, it could fetch about Rs 1,100-Rs 1,200 crore to the government.
An official source said that while investment sentiment was down, the offering of Pawan Hans is not unique. Further, the helicopter operator relies heavily on works given by public sector ONGC and there is no guarantee that once it becomes a private company all the current businesses will stay with it.
"It has not diversified much. Still, 70-80 per cent of its business comes from offshore works from ONGC. Also, not many private firms are keen to invest in government companies for various reasons," an official said.
The government has been trying to sell its stake in chopper service provider since 2016 but has so far not met with any success.
Amid growing uncertainty over its fate, PHHL has seen its financial performance going from bad to worse. It slipped into loss in 2018-19 after reporting profit for several years. The state-controlled company with a fleet of 46 choppers is headless since January this year.
A Mini Ratna-I category PSU, Pawan Hans provides helicopter services for offshore operations, inter island transportation, connecting inaccessible areas, rescue work and tourism.
--IANS
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