LONDON – Pawan Hans Limited (PHL) was privatized by the Government of India this week.
PHL in which the Government of India held 51% of ownership was sold to the highest bidder Star9 Mobility Private Ltd. The Indian Government had made three unsuccessful attempts to sell its stake in the loss-making company.
ONGC which owns the remaining 49%of ownership has also decided to sell its stake from the company to the highest bidder selected by the Government of India.
Pawan Hans was founded on 15th October 1985 by the Government of India with the objective of providing Heli service to Off-Shore Oil exploration and service in remote areas of the country.
Pawan Hans currently has 42 helicopters in its fleet. The aircrafts owned by the company have an average of over 20 years in which some of them are no longer manufactured by the original manufacturer.
Pawan Hans is also the largest South-East Asia largest helicopter company, but things had started going downwards for the company as it had started reporting huge losses and was barely able to sustain in the long run given the current scenario.
The company had reported consecutive losses in FY2019, FY2020 &FY2021.GOI had received Seven EoIs out of which four interested bidders were shortlisted as qualified bidders.
After detailed due diligence, the qualified bidders were invited to submit financial bids. Three financial bids were received.
Captain GR Gopinath of Deccan Aviation said “Any privatization is a good move as long as it doesn’t lead to a monopoly or cartelization. Thus, the privatization of Pawan Hans is good for the consumer and the country as it will help in expanding the market and increasing competition.”
“The fact that the company’s operations were heavily subsidized often led both central and state government agencies to award them contracts without bids resulting in compromises on price, quality, and technical capability”.
Star9 Mobility Private Ltd is a consortium of three companies – Big Charter (owner of regional airline Fly Big), Maharaja Aviation & Cayman Islands registered Almas Global Opportunity Fund, the sale has been approved for Rs211.14 Crore.
This privatization will give a boost to the Indian Aviation sector, many industry veterans have welcomed this move as this will now even the competition and allow for growth in the industry for other private companies as well.
Pawan Hans has a good safety record and in fact, it was one of the first ISO 9001:2000 certified aviation companies in the country.
All eyes are set on the new owners of the company as to what extent they will utilize the resources of the company and make it a profitable one.