NEW DELHI: New York-based Interups Inc has withdrawn from the Air India bidding process. Tuesday was the last date for filing EOI physically by those who had submitted the same online by the deadline of December 14 and the retirement fund of NRIs did not do the same ostensibly due to a clause that could have led to a “potential legal disqualification”.
Interups’ expression of interest (EoI) submitted on December 14 had proposed 49% ownership for it and remaining 51% for the employees. However, a consortia of 209 AI employees led by the airline’s director (commercial) Meenakshi Mallik have filed their own EoI.
Interups chairman Laxmi Prasad said a clause of the AI sale mandates that “no two interested bidders either individually or as a member of consortium shall be entitled to take the benefit of financial strength of the same affiliate for the purpose of participating in the proposed transaction either directly or indirectly.”
With employees being a common affiliate — a formal consortia in the case of Mallik’s EOI and a proposed one by Prasad — the Interups chairman says there could have been a “potential legal disqualification”.
“We have not submitted our physical EoI for (this) reason but we are aligned with the employees and terms remain the same — we completely fund the transaction with employees gaining 51% and we retaining 49%,” Laxmi Prasad told TOI, adding, “Instead of filing, we have chosen to support the employees who already have filed their bid as we are offered an opinion that filing a separate bid with same affiliation may disqualify the interested bidder and this legal fallacy will leave only one potential bidder. Under no circumstances we would wish this happening.”
The government has received “multiple expressions of interest (EoI)” from prospective buyers for AI. While the biggest name and strongest contender remains AI founder Tata Group, others who did so include a group of AI employees and now-withdrawn Interups. A leading global airline is likely to have expressed interest in AI. SpiceJet has so far not confirmed if promoter Ajay Singh did the same.
The qualified bidders will be intimated on January 5.
Interups website describes it as “a publicly listed company engaged in the business of identifying and investing into business opportunities or transactions either directly or on behalf of its stakeholders, affiliates, associate concerns and clients.”