Pawan Hans swayamvar delayed as Covid-19 scares suitors

On December 8 last year, the government had ‘in-principle’ decided to disinvest its entire equity shareholding in Pawan Hans and transfer management control

Pawan Hans swayamvar delayed as Covid-19 scares suitors
A Dauphin helicopter of Pawan Hans at the Juhu airport in Mumbai. Image courtesy: Wikimedia Commons/Alec Wilson

The government has decided to extend the deadline for submission of expressions of interest (EoIs) in premier helicopter services company Pawan Hans to February 18, 2021, in view of the prevailing Covid-19 situation and the logistical challenges faced by interested bidders. The earlier deadline was set as January 19, 2021.

The Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) on January 15, 2021, issued the first corrigendum to the Preliminary Information Memorandum (PIM) on the strategic sale of Pawan Hans. The last date for submission of physical copies for the interested bidders submitting EoIs electronically has also been revised from February 3, 2021, to March 5, 2021. Shortlisted bidders were to be notified by February 17, 2021. This deadline now stands "deleted", according to the corrigendum.  

This comes after the government had pushed back the date for intimating the qualified bidders for the national carrier Air India. 

On December 8 last year, the government had ‘in-principle’ decided to disinvest its entire equity shareholding in Pawan Hans by way of strategic disinvestment along with transfer of management control. 

The government owns 51% of the stake in the company, while Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) holds the remaining 49%. 

Also read: After Air India, Pawan Hans seeks suitors now as government plans exit

The ONGC had also decided to offload its entire stake to the successful bidder at the same discovered price per share and on same terms and conditions as agreed by the government, except for the rights available exclusively to the government. "The successful bidder, as identified by GOI, will have the option to buy entire ONGC stake of 49% in PHL on similar price and terms," the PIM stated. 

Pawan Hans Limited (PHL) is a mini-ratna, category-1 Central public sector undertaking (CPSU) under the administrative control of the ministry of civil aviation (MoCA). It was incorporated under the Companies Act, 1956 on October 15, 1985, to primarily provide helicopter services for the exploration activities of ONGC and to the North East Region of India. 

PHL is India’s leading helicopter company (with the largest fleet size) engaged in providing helicopter services for various purposes such as offshore operations, inter-island transportation, connecting inaccessible areas, pipeline surveillance, casualty and rescue work, charter services, VIP transportation, services under Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) and various other customised services, the PIM mentioned.

Pawan Hans also provided vital support to the Lifeline Udan mission launched by the government on March 26, a day after imposing a nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Also read: Air India employees believe 'nobody can run airline better', prepare takeover bid

The mission aimed at transporting essential cargo and medical supplies to the remotest corners of the country so that the travel bans did not cause panic among the public.

Special emphasis was put on the Northeast, islands and hill states. Pawan Hans had been providing helicopter services to Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh, islands and the Northeast transporting medical cargo and patients. Till June 1, the helicopter company carried 2.88 tonnes of cargo covering a distance of 11,041 km.

The company also undertakes maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services, consultancy services and foreign projects. Its real estate assets include the Rohini heliport in Delhi and helicopter training academy cum heliport at Hadapsar, Pune.

Pawan Hans also conducts training and skill development at the Pawan Hans Helicopter Training Institute (PHTI) and National Institute of Aviation Safety and Services (NIASS).

As of March 31, 2020, Pawan Hans had 42 helicopters in its fleet comprising three MI-172 heavy-duty helicopters, 17 Dauphin N, 14 Dauphin N3 and one Dhruv medium helicopters, three Bell 407, two Bell 206 L4 and two AS350B3 light single-engine helicopters. Its authorised capital as on March 31, 2020, was Rs 560 crore and paid-up share capital was Rs 557.48 crore.

The government had already made two unsuccessful attempts to sell Pawan Hans. The company had a total revenue of Rs 376.82 crore and total expenses of Rs 384.94 crore in FY20. It had total assets worth Rs 1,303.07 crore and total equity and liabilities of Rs 1,303.07 crore in FY20. PHL has an outstanding debt of Rs 15.93 crore as on March 31, 2020.

(Cover image courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Alec Wilson)