Govt to sell 49% stake of national carrier

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Revealing the Government’s plans to restructure the country’s national carrier SriLankan Airlines, Aviation Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva said proposals are to be called from desiring investors, to invest in 49 per cent shares and the administration of SriLankan Catering and also 49 per cent shares and administration in SrLankan Airlines’ Ground Handling.

The Minister stated this at a press conference held yesterday at his Ministry.

He said that currently the SriLankan Catering is making profits to a certain extent and therefore they have decided to sell a 49 per cent stake of the administration of SriLankan Catering, while keeping 51 per cent stake with the Government.

He said if an investor is seeking a higher stake in the company, based on the relevant requests by the investors, the Government is prepared to sell a higher percentage of the shares and obtain some funding from that.

“When we get that amount of money, we can use it to somewhat reduce the debt burden of SriLankan Airlines,” he said.

The Minister also said that currently they are forming a separate company for ground handling and it will be provided with the relevant duties and movable and immovable properties related to that company.

“From there we get an income of about Rs 5,000 million per year. Therefore, we think that we will be able to get a lot of money in restructuring it,” de Silva said.

He said that they expect to be able to sell 49 per cent stake in that company as well and that no investor will be willing to invest in only 49 per cent shares and therefore, they will have to give them management of the company as well. 

Accordingly, he said the Government intends to call for Expressions of Interest (EOIs) for this.

The moneys received from both these, we don’t expect to use for any other work. It will be used to pay the debt of SriLankan Airlines and get rid of the debt as much as possible.”

During the briefing, the Minister also revealed that the total debt of SriLankan Airlines is USD 1.126 billion which is equivalent to about
Rs 401 billion.

By Thameenah Razeek