Etihad Airways expressed its interest to buy stake in Jet Airways under the bidding process run by the airline’s lenders on Friday. The State Bank of India-led consortium of 26 lenders also received two non-binding bids for purchasing stake in the embattled airline.
“Etihad Airways today confirmed its interest to re-invest in a minority stake in India’s Jet Airways, subject to conditions. India is one of the fastest-growing air transport markets in the world, and a significant economic partner of the UAE. Etihad has been working consistently with key stakeholders in India over the past 15 months to help find a solution which would ensure Jet’s return as a viable and competitive Indian airline, and continues to do so,” an Etihad spokesperson said.
However, Etihad reiterated that it cannot be expected to be the sole investor in Jet. “Amongst other requirements, additional suitable investors would need to provide the majority of Jet Airways’ required recapitalisation,” the spokesperson added.
Details of the bidders who presented unsolicited bids could not be ascertained yet.
Jet Airways had grounded operations on April 17 after the lenders refused to infuse Rs 400 crore requested by the airline to pay vendors and service providers in order to continue services. Even before that, the lenders had taken control of the company’s board after founder Naresh Goyal and his wife had exited the company.
The lenders had initiated a bidding process to sell stake in the debt-laden airline to recover some of the debt. The banks are offering 31.2-75 per cent stake in Jet Airways on a fully diluted basis. The proceeds of the stake sale are expected to help realise at least a portion of the Rs 8,000-crore dent the airline owes to its lenders.
The consortium of lenders had invited expressions of interest (EoIs) between April 8 and 12 for stake sale for the bidding process. Four bidders were picked from the recieved applications – Etihad Airlines, state-owned NIIF, and private equity firms IndiGo Partners and TPG.
There had been reports though, that the bidders have lost interest in the airline after its aircraft and slots at airports in Delhi and Mumbai were handed over to competitors. However, the SBI Chairman has expressed hope that the airline will not go to insolvency.
“NCLT is the last option. It is the option when no option is left,” Kumar told India Today.
Meanwhile, shares of Jet Airways rose by nearly 3 per cent on Friday after over hopes of revival for the grounded carrier. The scrip went up by 2.85 per cent to close at Rs 151.80 on the BSE. During the day, it gained 6.91 per cent to Rs 157.80.