The report on the three bidders for SriLankan Airlines has been submitted to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and he is to make a decision on it in the next two to three weeks, Public Enterprise Development Minister Kabir Hashim said.
“At present, we are looking into whether the companies have adequate and reliable funding for the proposals,” he added.
The minister addressing a media briefing at the ministry said it was imperative that the debt ridden airline finds a bidder soon.
“The Treasury has said they would soon stop supporting our recurrent expenditure though they will cover the debt,”he said.
The three shortlisted buyers out of the initial nine are Texas Pacific Group (TPG), PeaceAir Pvt Ltd and the Maldivian company Super Group Partners.
“None of the shortlisted bidders have experience in running an international airline, though TPG is famous for its business restructuring,”Hashim said and noted that none of the major airlines had made a bid for SriLankan.
“We are looking for an equity partner and are prepared to hand over managerial powers to them. The national carrier’s status however will be maintained and thus the government will have the majority stake in the airline and that will not be compromised,”Hashim said. The Prime Minister had also informed the Cabinet Committee on Economic Management (CCEM) that if currently shortlisted companies were not satisfactory, another committee comprising of the three ministers; Sarath Amunugama, Malika Samarawickrema and Kabir Hashim would be appointed and fresh bids for the Airline called for.
PeaceAir in the meantime held a media briefing on Thursday to state that the bid evaluation process was not transparent. The company owned by businessman Gamini Wethasinghe said the government was supposed to open up SriLankan Airlines for due diligence from Peace Air and its consulting partners Lufthansa Consulting and Privatair, but that was yet to happen