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A Group of Ministers (GoM) appointed to chalk out Air India's disinvestment plan held its first meeting on Friday, according to the Indian Express. At the preliminary meeting, the ministerial panel asked the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (Dipam) to prepare a proposal on Air India disinvestment in coordination with the Ministry of Civil Aviation, sources told Indian Express on Saturday.

"This was a preliminary meeting. The Cabinet approval for Air India stake sale is already there. We need to see how to go about it," a senior minister who attended the meeting told the paper, asking not to be named.

Ministers who attended the meeting included Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu and Minister for Power and Coal (independent charge) Piyush Goyal.

Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari was not present at the meeting. Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation, R N Choubey declined to comment on the specifics, saying, "It is a market sensitive issue."

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, had on June 28 given 'in-principle' approval for considering strategic disinvestment of Air India and five of its subsidiaries.

The approval was given based on the fourth tranche recommendations of NITI Aayog on the strategic disinvestment based on the recommendations of the Core Group of Secretaries on Disinvestment (CGD).

The CCEA called for the constitution of an Air India-specific Alternative Mechanism headed by the Minister of Finance including the Minister for Civil Aviation to guide the process of strategic disinvestment from time to time. The mechanism's has been mandated to decide the treatment of unsustainable debt of Air India; manage the hiving off of certain assets to a shell company; demerger and strategic disinvestment of three profit-making subsidiaries; quantum of disinvestment; and the universe of bidders.

Air India graphic
Raghavendra N