UPDATE 1-India calls for bids as it seeks to sell entire stake in Air India

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(Adds details on sale process, background)

By Aditi Shah and Aftab Ahmed

NEW DELHI, Jan 27 (Reuters) – India said on Monday it plans to sell its entire stake in Air India, in a revised push to sell its national carrier after an initial attempt to sell a majority stake in the airline failed to draw a single bid in 2018.

A document inviting expressions of interest in Air India, released on Monday, said India would sell a 100% stake in the carrier, which operates both domestic and international routes.

The document set March 17 as the deadline for submissions of initial expressions of interest and said any bidder would have to agree to assume roughly $3.26 billion in debt, along with other liabilities.

India said that substantial ownership and effective control of Air India would have to remain vested with an Indian entity following the sale, limiting the scope of any foreign bidders interested in the asset.

In 2018, India had tried to sell a 76% stake in Air India and offload about $5.1 billion of its debt, terms that potential buyers at the time viewed as too onerous here

Air India, known for its Maharaja mascot, has some of India’s most lucrative international and domestic landing and parking slots that are key for airlines. (Reporting by Aditi Shah and Aftab Ahmed; Writing by Euan Rocha; Editing by Tom Hogue and Muralikumar Anantharaman)

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