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USA make bid today to buy majority stake 51 percentage of Air India

US-based fund Interups will submit its physical bid for Air India on December 29, the last day to do so, its founder Laxmi Prasad told Moneycontrol.

The fund was one of the three suitors who were confirmed to have submitted an expression of interest, by December 14. It is up against Tata Sons and a consortium of Air India employees led by Meenakshi Malik, the airline's Director, Commercial.

The employee consortium has already submitted its papers, Malik confirmed. Tata Sons is yet to officially confirm its interest in Air India, even though sources in the industry said the holding company of the group has submitted its EoI.

Once the bids are submitted, the government will shortlist the suitors by January 5. In the next stage, bidders will be allowed to conduct due diligence with access to more data and information on the airline.

Interups has proposed a consortium with Air India employees, with an offer to let them have a majority 51 percent stake. "We are in active discussions with them and extended our offer very openly," Prasad said.

The consortium led by Malik, includes a financial investor. But the identity of the investor is yet to be disclosed. Air India's 219 employees are part of the bid. The airline's pilots and crew members have stayed away from the bid, asking instead for their salary dues to be first cleared.

The government had changed many a clause to attract more suitors in this its second attempt to sell Air India, in as many years. "The interested bidders have been asked to indicate their interest on enterprise value of Air India," the government has said. The winner will have to pay 15 percent of the enterprise value in cash to the government. The rest can be taken on as debt.

More could be known later in the day on Tuesday, with Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri set to address media.

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