FDI policy liberalised; fgn airlines allowed 49% stake in AI

By allowing 49% FDI in Air India the government will likely get more bidders and hence a better valuation. But it should clarify like in the Maruti Suzuki case that it will not interfere in the management after the disinvestment

"It has been made a decision to clarify that real-estate broking service does not amount to real estate business and is therefore, eligible for 100% FDI under automatic route", the statement said.

The government has allowed investment of about 49% on Air India, ahead of the union budget 2018-19. These are meant to liberalize and simplify the FDI policy so as to provide ease of doing business in the country.

While there have been efforts by previous governments to divest part of all of the state's stake in Air India, none has shown as much commitment and intensity as the current National Democratic Alliance.

"This breakthrough will open up millions of new employment opportunities, a push to investment activity in the economy and expansion in economic growth trajectory in the coming times", he said. "We believe the decision to allow 100 per cent FDI through automatic route will ease the process for foreign as well domestic brands", Retailers Association said. Under the current policy, there is a limit of 49% FDI and for 100% foreign investment, the approval of the Government was required. This brings Air India, which previously had to be fully locally owned, in line with the country's other local airlines in which foreign investment is allowed.

In construction sector, the Government clarified that real-estate broking service eligible for 100% FDI under automatic route.

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Air India had a total debt of about Rs 48,877 crore at the end of March 2017, of which about Rs 17,360 crore was aircraft loan, and Rs 31,517 crore for working capital. The Cabinet has allowed 100% FDI via automatic route in single brand retail trading and construction, while it has raised the existing limit in power exchanges and aviation sectors.

This is the second major liberalisation in FDI policy by the NDA government in one go after major changes effected in June 2016.

The move should generate employment and give Indian consumers access to several global brands.

Secretary in the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) Ramesh Abhishek said the move would help further improve investment climate in India.

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