• Cabinet likely to decide on Pawan Hans strategic stake sale in December

    The Union Cabinet is expected to take a final decision on the disinvestment of Pawan Hans Helicopter Ltd in December. Set up in 1986, PHHL is the largest helicopter operator in the country with a fleet of over 40.

    Later this week the Ministry of Civil Aviation, the nodal Ministry under which PHHL comes, will move a note for inter-ministerial comments on the state-owned helicopter company’s disinvestment. The comments are expected within a week.

    Three weeks after receiving the comments, the Civil Aviation Ministry hopes to approach the Union Cabinet, a senior Ministry official said.

    ONGC and the government are the major shareholders in Pawan Hans.

    PHHL was one of the over two dozen government entities for which the Union Cabinet gave “in principle” approval for strategic sale and divesting management control late last week.

    But for PHLL’s divestment to go through, the Finance Ministry has to waive off a ?480-crore outstanding against the company. The amount includes ?120 crore that the government provided PHLL and the balance ?360 crore is the interest on this amount.

    With the Finance Ministry indicating its willingness to “waive of the dues” PHHL’s divestment looks set.

    Officials of the Civil Aviation Ministry declined to say when the disinvestment will take place and how much stake the government will divest, pointing out that it was the Finance Ministry’s responsibility to carry out the divestment. The current rules permit 100 per cent foreign investment in the operations of helicopters and sea planes.

    When asked about the divestment of PHHL, Ashok Gajapathi Raju, Union Civil Aviation Minister pointed out that while the helicopters with PHHL were “work horses” the organisation had not really grown since its inception. Malik Jefferson Jersey

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