The Privatisation Commission has invited expressions of interest in acting as financial adviser for the privatisation of national flag carrier Pakistan International Airlines (PIA). The commission says that it is seeking an advisory group with investment banking, legal and airline consultancy expertise.

The commission says that the privatisation of PIA will be implemented in two phases. The first phase will comprise the sale of a controlling block of shares to a strategic investor who will take over operation of the airline. The second phase would be a public offering of remaining shares. The advising group would be required to design, develop and implement the first phase, the invitation to bid says. However, sources at the commission say that no definite decision has been taken on the two-phase approach and that the appointed adviser may suggest an alternative strategy.

The government says that the aim of the sale of shares in PIA is to promote efficiency and generate investment to upgrade and modernise the airline’s fleet. However, local observers are sceptical that the sale of a large shareholding will be attractive to potential private operators. The deadline for expressions of interest in the advisory position is 21 April (MEED 7:2:97).