Interups Inc., a little know American company, has emerged as a serious contender for acquiring India’s national carrier.
As the deadline to file Air India Expression of Interest got extended for the fourth time to 30th October, the race has finally started heating up. The Indian government owned Air India is finally getting some respectable market response. As the Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, promised during the Budget 2020-21, Air India’s privatization may see the daylight now. It should be noted that the Indian government has set a target of a whopping Rs 2.1 Trillion from disinvestment of various public sector undertakings and Initial public offering of LIC.
After visible interest from the Tata Group, Hinduja, and Adani to buy Air India, the US-based fund Interups Inc is the new and reportedly one of the strongest contenders, set to file their bid at the earliest. The report described that the bid is likely to have an Infrastructure Investment Trust (InvIT) structure that will capture the Airline’s revenue-generating arms – separated from core operations. This will attract institutional investors.
According to the sources quoted, Interups has completed the Airline valuation, and it is now holding talks with Indian banks and investors for a joint bid. Last month, Interups Inc’s Chief Business Architect, Laxmi Prasad, said that Interups was a serious contender for Air India. He said, “We carry 27,000 plus NRI retirement asset accounts and a group of very ultra-rich Billionaires, and we are dead serious on our fight to have this airline piece not miss our hands.” According to Prasad, they have met government officials several times, and despite the pandemic, they are still sticking to the plan to acquire Air India. The acquisition will see the participation by NRI and the domestic Indian investor base.
Interups Inc. is an American public listed company. It deals with identifying and investing in business opportunities directly or on behalf of its stakeholders, affiliates, associate concerns, and clients. It was set up in 2012 in the United States. However, its shares are under suspension by the SEC from US stock exchanges due to the inability to file statutory information since 2016.
Interups Inc.’s shares are under suspension by the SEC from US stock exchanges due to the inability to file statutory information since 2016.
Interups Inc.’s Ambitious $8 Billion Plan for India
Interups has earlier said that it aims at acquiring assets worth around $8 billion in India. The investment bucket may include Air India and luxury resorts, and a financial services company.
It had offered Rs 1,260 crore and Rs 252 crore for the Claridges Hotels in New Delhi, Mussoorie, and Mahabalipuram Intercontinental Hotel Resort, respectively. It also plans to get an all equity buyout option of Lavasa at $450 million and spend another $150 million for maintenance of the property.
The Asian Colour Episode
In August, Interups tried to pitch Rs 2000 crore for acquiring Asian Colour Coated Ispat (ACCIL) as its initial bidder- JSW Steel’s Rs 1550 crore was caught amidst National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) proceedings. Interups Inc told the NCLT that it could make the full payment within the 30 days of NCLT’s approval and even agreed to put Rs 500 crore in an escrow account. It also promised Rs 400 crore as an investment during the first year for the business’s smooth operation. The US-based investment firm was also eager to submit a resolution plan within 10 days of receiving requisite documents from ACCIL.
Earlier in June, Interups’ offer was rejected by the resolution professional (RP), citing the closure of the bidding process. In the NCLT hearing, Interups’ lawyer said that the foreign fund was a serious investor and offering 33% more than JSW’s offer. As per the Interups’ allegations, the resolution professional (RP) rejected the offer without even routing it through the committee of creditors’ (CoC’s).
The Air India saga has taken curious turns over the past few weeks. Once the heavy-loss making white elephant is now attracting money across the globe. It was earlier believed that the Tata group was the sole serious contender to get Air India, but things will be different with the entry of Interups Inc. Above all, it will be noteworthy to see how the fate of the 90-years old Airline is going to be once Air India gets out of the claws of Indian bureaucracy.