Govt to sell its entire 51% stake in Pawan Hans

The government is exiting helicopter service operator Pawan Hans Ltd and has invited bids from private companies, including foreign entities to buy out its entire 51-per cent stake along with management control.

State-run oil and gas explorer ONGC holds the remaining 49-per cent stake in the miniratna PSU, which is under the administrative control of the civil aviation ministry.

In its ''global invitation for expression of interest'', the government sought bids by 8 December.

''The government proposes to disinvest its entire equity shareholding of 51 per cent in Pawan Hans Ltd by way of strategic disinvestment to investors, along with transfer of management control,'' it said.

The move comes after the government announced sale of stake in national flag carrier Air India.

Pawan Hans was incorporated on 15 October 1985 as the Helicopter Corporation of India (HCI) with the objective of providing helicopter support services to the oil sector for its off-shore exploration operations besides services in remote areas and charter services for promotion of tourism.

The government also initially owned the enterprise with 78.5-per cent stake and the remaining 21.5 per cent with ONGC, which later raised its stake to 49 per cent that saw the equity base of Pawan Hans being enhanced to Rs245 crore from Rs113 crore.

Unlike Air India, Pawan Hans is a profit-making helicopter service provider and the sale of stake could fetch the government Rs500 crore or thereabouts, say analysts.

PHL's net profit rose nearly six fold to Rs248 crore in FY17, from Rs36 crore in FY16. After a recent capital restructuring, its paid-up capital has more than doubled to Rs557.48 crore. As of 31 March 2016, it had a net worth of Rs580 crore. At the end of FY16, PHL also had a cash and bank balance of Rs124 crore.

The company's outstanding debt stood at Rs38.71 crore as of 31 March 31, 2016, with a debt to equity ratio of 0.07.

The government has also invited EoI from Engineers India or other similar central PSUs for acquiring its 100 per cent shareholding in Projects and Development India, which incurred a loss of Rs10 crore in FY17.

Earlier this week, the Centre had invited initial bids for four other PSUs - Hospital Services Consultancy Corporation, Bridge & Roof Co, National Projects Construction Corporation and Engineering Projects India.

The government has drawn up a rather ambitious plan for strategic sales in 16-odd PSUs, which also include profitable BEML and Hindustan Prefabs.

Pawan Hans is the leader in helicopter operations in India, with the biggest fleet of 43 helicopters and a diverse fleet mix of light, medium and heavy helicopters, enabling it to cater to different client needs.

Pawan Hans provides helicopter services for offshore operations, inter-island transportation, connecting inaccessible areas, rescue work, tourism etc. Its competitors include Global Vectra Helicorp with 26 copters, Heligo Charters (8) and Himalayan Heli Services (4).

However, nearly 40-45 per cent of Pawan Hans's revenue comes from contracts with ONGC and the oil and gas sector while another 35-40 per cent comes from state governments.

According to the preliminary information document, the 25-acre Rohini Heliport in New Delhi, developed in partnership with the ministry of civil aviation, would be hived off from Pawan Hans's books before completion of the disinvestment process.

Government has set a divestment target of Rs72,500-crore for the current financial year.