By Shabiya Ali Ahlam
In an attempt to choose from a wider pool of potential partners to manage the country’s debt-ridden national airline, the government yesterday extended the closing date for expression of interest (EOI) till the end of August to accommodate several more proposals that were in the pipeline.
Speaking to Mirror Business, Minister of Public Enterprise Development Eran Wickramaratne said the extension was made primarily to accommodate four more companies who have informally expressed their keenness in the reorientation of SriLankan Airlines and Mihin Lanka.
“From what we are told by the managers there is good response. There are another four more who are in the process of compiling their proposals. But these are very big companies and have their own internal processes which take time. Therefore they (lead managers) suggested it would be good to extend the deadline by another month, for which we have agreed,” said the Minister, justifying the extension.In response to the initial call, a total of eight companies have stated their interest.
any interested party as the lead manager (NSB Fund Management) and the transaction advisors (BNP Paribas and KPMG) would only share the report once all proposals are received.
The EOI, which was made available from 27 July for a non-refundable fee of US $ 5000, would now be available till August 31, 2016, according to a notice published on the weekend papers. The previous deadline for collection was 24 August.
The notice published by NSB Fund Management stated that proposals can be submitted till September 23, 2016.
With the advisors expected to take approximately six weeks to study and shortlist the proposals, the Minister expressed confidence in engaging in “serious” dialogue with suitable partners around January 2017.
In March this year, the government announced it was seeking foreign assistance to turnaround SriLankan.
The statement was made shortly after the government having acknowledged that SriLankan could not payback its debt mounting over US $ 1 billion. In addition to the debt pile, the national carrier has accumulated losses to the tune of of Rs.128 billion (US $ 872 million).