Indian government on Monday signed a deal with Tata Sons for the sale of national carrier Air India for INR 18,000 crore.

Earlier this month, the government had accepted a proposal by Salt-to-Software group's holding company Tales Pvt Ltd to pay Rs 2,700 crore in cash and take over Rs 15,300 crore of the airline's debt.

After that, a letter of intent (LOI) was issued to the Tata group on October 11, confirming the government's willingness to sell its 100 per cent stake in the airline.

Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) Secretary Tuhin Kanta Pandey says, "Share Purchase Agreement signed today by Government with Tata Sons for strategic disinvestment of Air India,"

The deal also includes the sale of Air India Express and ground handling arm AISATS. Tata surpassed the Rs 15,100 crore offer by SpiceJet promoter Ajay Singh-led consortium and the Rs 12,906 crore reserve price set by the government for the sale of its 100 per cent stake in the loss-making carrier.

While this will be the first privatization since 2003–04, Air India will be the third airline brand in the Tata stable – it has a majority stake in Vistara, a joint venture with AirAsia India and Singapore Airlines Ltd.

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