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Jet Airways shareholders approve Etihad deal

Last updated on: May 24, 2013 16:22 IST

Jet Airways shareholders approve Etihad deal

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Prashant Mehra in Mumbai

Shareholders in Jet Airways approved an agreed sale of a 24 per cent stake in the airline to Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways, a senior executive at the Indian carrier said on Friday.

Jet Airways, however, deferred seeking shareholder approval for a new set of 'Articles of Association' as it awaits regulatory clarity, company secretary Arun Kanakal told Reuters after a shareholders' meeting.

Etihad, in April, agreed to acquire a 24 per cent stake in Jet for $370 million, giving it a bigger foothold in the fast-growing Indian market.

Etihad's investment is the first by an overseas operator in an Indian airline since ownership rules were relaxed and provides Jet with a deep-pocketed global partner as well as cash to retire debt.

Text: Reuters and PTI

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Image: India's Jet Airways Chairman Naresh Goyal (L) and James Hogan (R) of United Arab Emirates Etihad Airways shake hands.
Photographs: Punit Paranjpe/Reuters

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Jet Airways shareholders approve Etihad deal

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According to another report by PTI, Jet Airways Chairman Naresh Goyal said on Friday this strategic alliance would improve the Indian carrier's profitability and lower the costs.

"Etihad investment will help us to deleverage and grow in a sustainable manner," Goyal said in Mumbai while addressing Jet Airway's shareholders at an Extra Ordinary General Meeting convened to seek their approval for the Etihad deal.

At the EGM, shareholders approved the proposed issue of shares on a preferential basis to Etihad.

However, these shares would be allotted after completion of all regulatory approvals.

The deal is being looked into by Competition Commission of India and Securities and Exchange Board of India among other regulators.

"The commercial agreement with Etihad will help us to expand network, reduce costs and increase profitability," he added.

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Image: Trade Minister Anand Sharma shakes hands with Ahmed Ali-al-Sayegh, a board member of Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways, as Jet Airways Chairman Naresh Goyal (L-R) looks on.
Photographs: Mansi Thapliyal/Reuters

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Jet Airways shareholders approve Etihad deal

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As part of the deal, Etihad would acquire 24 per cent stake in Jet Airways for about Rs 2,058 crore (Rs 20.58 billion).

The deal marks the first investment by a foreign carrier in an Indian airline since the change in the country's FDI policy last September.

Both the companies have said that substantial ownership and effective control will remain with Indian nationals, with Goyal as non-executive Chairman holding 51 per cent stake.

Jet had earlier said it was proposing to modify the existing Articles of Association to reflect the shareholders' agreement between its promoters and Etihad.

"Further, provisions have been added in the Articles of Association to further improve the standards of corporate governance of the company," it had earlier said.

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Photographs: Fabian Bimmer/Reuters

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Jet Airways shareholders approve Etihad deal

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These amendments included Etihad-nominated directors on Jet board not being liable for any default or failure of the company in complying with the provisions of any applicable laws.

"The Investor (Etihad) Board Members shall not be identified as 'officer in default' of the company or occupiers of any premises used by the company under laws," Jet had said in its EGM notice.

Pursuant to the deal, Naresh Goyal-led promoter group can nominate four directors (who would be Indian citizens), while Etihad would nominate three directors. Besides, seven would be Independent Directors.

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Image: A newly acquired Jet Airways Boeing 777-300ER aircraft sits on the tarmac at Mumbai airport.
Photographs: Punit Paranjpe/Reuters
Tags: EGM , Naresh , Airways , Etihad

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Jet Airways shareholders approve Etihad deal

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These amendments also barred the promoters from transferring any shares without a prior written consent of Etihad, among other conditions.

Besides, Etihad was also said to be getting powers to appoint auditors and these provisions are being seen as Jet giving joint control to the Abu Dhabi carrier, along with the existing promoters.

Clarifications have already been sought by capital markets regulator Sebi and fair trade watchdog CCI on the deal.

Goel said the company has not got anything in writing from Sebi and it is too early to comment on the clarifications sought by them.


Image: An engineer walks near an Etihad Airways aircraft at Abu Dhabi International Airport.
Photographs: Reuters

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