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Air India: Anand Mahindra has a roadmap to revive Air India

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NEW DELHI: With his experience of running a revived company like Satyam Computers, Mahindra Group executive chairman Anand Mahindra has now come out with a roadmap for Air India which has found no takers when the government tried to sell it. The industrialist says AI must be revived first by putting it under an eminent person like Delhi Metro’s former head E Sreedharan and be sold off after that.

In fact, he had famously said last year that he wasn’t courageous enough to bid for AI (meaning in its current form). “I see myself as a generally courageous person. But I confess…I don’t possess THAT much courage,” he had tweeted last year. On Thursday when the deadline for giving expression of interest for AI ended, it turned Mahindra wasn’t the only one who wasn’t courageous enough to bid for the debt-laden Maharaja. In fact, no one put in a bid for the airline.

A day after the AI divestment coming a cropper in its present terms of sale, Mahindra has given his prescription for the airline which he termed “a matter of national pride”.

“Time to turn a crisis into opportunity. Resolve that a sale will be made, but only after a turnaround. Locate and appoint a government official with the potential and passion of an E Sreedharan as chairman and CEO. Provide FULL autonomy to the chairman and CEO with a target horizon for a turnaround. Provide the chairman COMPLETE insulation from political pressure. Provide FULL moral support to the chairman for all tough measures that will be required,” Mahindra, a former AI board member, said in a series of Tweet Friday.

When asked on Twitter by someone if he wanted the government to “commit political suicide” (by doing what he suggested), the note industrialist replied: “Quite the opposite. I think that zero interest in the sale has demonstrated to the people that tough action towards a turnaround is needed. There will be widespread support for swift and decisive action. This is a political opportunity.”

Mahindra’s tweets carry weight given his experience with turned around companies. In 2009, Tech Mahindra had successfully bid for the scam-tainted Satyam Computers after the company had been revived using steps similar to what Anand Mahindra has suggested for AI now.

Updated: June 1, 2018 — 12:34 pm

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