By James T. McKenna | March 13, 2017
India's civil aviation ministry is reviewing bids by asset-valuation firms to conduct reviews of Pawan Hans Ltd. as part of the government's plan to sell that state-controlled operator and transfer management of it to new investors.
India's government plans to sell its 51% stake in the company as part of a strategy to raise 725 billion rupees (about $10.9 billion) this fiscal year in the divestment of what it calls central public sector enterprises. Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Ltd. of India holds 49% of Pawan Hans.
Government officials were scheduled to hold a meeting on Feb. 27 to review submitted bids.
The operator was created in 1985 as Helicopter Corporation of India Ltd. primarily to provide rotary-wing support for offshore oil exploration. It also was charged with operating in India's inaccessible areas and conducting charter flights to promote travel and tourism.
With a current fleet reported at about 45 aircraft operating from 14 bases and a staff of 450 regular employees and 334 contractors, Pawan Hans today also trains aviation maintenance engineers (or mechanics), pilots and safety auditors, operates heliports and sea planes and conducts helicopter maintenance, repair and overhaul joint ventures. It is an authorized capital level of 2.5 billion rupees (about $37.75 million), according to the civil aviation ministry.
The sales proposal comes as Pawan Hans has outlined a tripling of its fleet, in part to support the government’s Regional Air Connectivity Scheme — an effort to bring low-fare, subsidized flights to underserved areas of India.
Plans to sell off the 51% stake understandably have provoked resistance from Pawan Hans employees, and the overall effort to sell off state-owned enterprises has been criticized by some officials in government ministries opposed to giving foreign investors control over those outfits.
In its request for tenders, government said the selected advisor would be charged with assessing the value of a broad range of Pawan Hans’ assets, including its helicopters, equipment, plants, machineries, tools and inventory stocks, as well as its land and buildings, furniture and fixtures, workshops, institutes, civil infrastructure (like offices, residential facilities, roads) at all its bases on an "as-is where-is basis."