Govt. finds suit for Pawan Hans

Govt. finds suit for Pawan Hans

After three failed attempts, the Union government has finally found a suit for Pawan Hans, a loss-making helicopter service company. The winning consortium, Star 9 Mobility, comprises Big Charter, Maharaja Aviation and Almas Global Opportunity Fund, has a bid of Rs 211.14 crore. The reserve price for the sale was fixed at 199.92 crore, based on a valuation carried out by SBI Capital Markets and RBSA Advisors.

The sale of Pawan Hans, a 51: 49 joint venture between the ONGC and the Union government is seen as another milestone for the government s disinvestment programme, coming nearly three months after the sale of the national flag carrier, Air India. Akshay Nagpal, Partner at Saraf and Partners, told Business Today that the disinvestment of Pawan Hans is positive for the government's disinvestment exercise as well as the Indian aviation sector.

Gopinath, founder of Deccan Aviation, said that the privatisation of Pawan Hans will help the market and increase competition. This will also give a boost to the segment which is currently a minuscule part of India's aviation industry, according to industry veteran Pushpinder Oberai. As a government-owned business, the firm enjoyed a quasi-monopoly in the rotary-wing aviation market, which restricted its scale of operations and fleet size to 42 helicopters, out of which it owns 41. Three-fourths of the helicopters it owns are no longer under production, with an average age of over 20 years.

Per Smedegaard, a former CEO at a leading Indian helicopter services firm, has an interesting insight. There are around 230 registered civil helicopters in India. Sao Paulo alone has more than 700 helicopters in Brazil. He believes that the privatisation of Pawan Hans will bring a new perspective to the industry.