After previous unsuccessful attempts to sell the country’s biggest public sector helicopter operator, Pawan Hans Ltd (PHL), the Centre on Thursday invited fresh bids for offloading its stake in the company.
However, in a huge embarrassment after the government announced its intention to sell PHL, the company’s performance has nosedived sharply and the 33-year-old firm will record its first-ever loss at over Rs 75 cr in 2018-19.
A senior aviation official said such multiple attempts to sell the company has actually proved detrimental to its image. ‘The government has already merged certain public sector entities with excellent results. It must consider the option of merging PHL with the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), which will be mutually beneficial to both. Such a measure could create a truly world-class and profitable company,’ the official, requesting anonymity, said.
Industry players express doubts over the expectations of earning around Rs 1,000 cr from the sale, pointing to PHL’s loss and the ongoing huge turbulence in the country’s aviation sector that has not spared even Air India.
In April 2018, the Centre had first announced PHL’s proposed strategic sale and sought Expression of Interest from prospective bidders. In August 2018, the ONGC board decided to unconditionally offer its entire stake of 273,166 shares (49 pc) in PHL at the same price and similar terms and conditions as decided by the government for sale of its 51 pc shareholding.