Cabinet approves 11-member board of PIA holding company

Published March 27, 2024
The establishment of the new entity is being hailed as a significant development as PIA’s liabilities and assets will be transferred to the holding company.—Reuters/file
The establishment of the new entity is being hailed as a significant development as PIA’s liabilities and assets will be transferred to the holding company.—Reuters/file

RAWALPINDI: The federal cabinet has approved the board of PIA Holding Company, and former State Bank governor Tariq Bajwa has been appointed as its chairman.

The federal cabinet, through circulation on Tuesday, gave the nod to the 11-member board, according to sources.

The move is being hailed as a significant development in the national carrier’s privatisation process as its liabilities and assets will be transferred to the holding company, which will be registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan.

The board will include seven independent directors and four government officials.

The majority of the independent directors are heads of commercial banks, including Atif Aslam Bajwa and Shahzad Dada, the CEOs of Bank Alfalah and United Bank Limited, respectively.

Government officers on the board included secretaries of aviation, finance, privatisation and Planning Commission.

PIA CEO Air Vice Marshal Amir Hayat has been appointed the company’s first CEO.

In July 2023, PIA’s board of directors approved a plan to restructure the airline by incorporating the new holding company to retain legacy loans, non-aviation assets and existing PIACL subsidiaries (PIA-IL, Skyrooms Limited, and Saber Travel Network), with the airline itself as its wholly owned subsidiary retaining aviation assets and relating liabilities.

Engagements with potential investors

In a separate development, a meeting chaired by the federal aviation minister has been told that investors from at least seven countries are interested in the transaction of PIA’s privatisation.

According to a press release issued by the Ministry of Aviation, Khawaja Asif presided over a meeting on the outsourcing of airports and privatisation of PIA on Tuesday.

International Finance Corporation, a commercial arm of the World Bank that is leading the privatisation process, claimed that investors in Germany, France, Netherlands, Qatar, the UAE, Malaysia and Turkiye have shown interest, while local groups are also interested in the transaction.

The minister instructed ministry officials to arrange an online meeting with Pakistani ambassadors in countries whose investors are interested in buying the airline.

The officials have been directed to brief the ambassadors on aviation and request them to “actively interact” with the interested parties.

The meeting was attended by the secretaries of the aviation division and Privatisation Commission, additional secretary of Foreign Office and other senior officers, the press release added.

He also advised connecting with local investors to enhance their awareness so that they can participate in the bidding process by developing consortiums.

Privatisation Commission Secretary Usman Akhtar Bajwa updated the minister on the marketing plan and preliminary engagement with international investors, including those from the UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkiye, regarding the privatisation of Pakistan International Airlines.

The minister also directed the officials to visit these countries and engage with potential investors.

Published in Dawn, March 27th, 2024

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