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Jet staring at bleak future as Hindujas, Etihad fail to ink pact

May 24, 2019 17:46 IST

Both lenders and Etihad are not comfortable with the entities holding stake in Jet as they have no proven credentials in running a big business

Jet Airways’ future remained uncertain as Hinduja Group and Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways failed to make headway in their negotiations for joint ownership of the airline.

Simultaneously, it has been learnt that lenders have expressed reservations to consider the unsolicited bids, as they find them lacking financial and managerial depth.

 

Multiple entities, including UK-based entrepreneur Jason Unsworth, Mumbai-based Darwin Platform Group, London-based AdiGro Aviation, and Russian aviation professional Oleg Evdokimov, were not shortlisted by the lenders but had submitted bids after the deadline.

Officials of Hinduja Group met Etihad executives’ on Thursday at the Etihad headquarters in Abu Dhabi to discuss the deal. Top executives of State Bank of India (SBI), which leads the lenders’ consortium, were also present at the meeting in Abu Dhabi, the corporate headquarters of Etihad.

“No decision has been taken regarding the partnership. The Hinduja Group is uncertain about making any investment in Jet. Initial talks are still under way. It is unlikely that they will translate into investment,” said a person aware of the development.

As part of the Jet resolution process, lenders had called bids to buy up to 76 per cent in the troubled airline.

But it was only Etihad which had submitted a conditional bid, forcing the lenders to look for a partner willing to buy majority stake.

As part of the process, SBI Caps, the investment banking subsidiary of SBI, has reached out to various Indian conglomerates and government-owned National Investment and Infrastructure Fund.

It has also started discussion with unsolicited bidders like London-based Adi Partners and Darwin Platform Group, which has investments across various sectors, including oil and gas, hospitality, and realty.

But sources said that both lenders and Etihad are not comfortable with the entities holding stake in Jet as they have no proven credentials in running a big business.

Sources close to the bidding process said that lenders took legal opinion on whether to consider the unsolicited bids which came after the deadline and finally decided against it.

Simultaneously, the credibility of the entities also doesn’t fit for managing Jet, which would require large investment to revive it.

“Some of the entities don’t have a head leading the organisation.

"Some of them have been unable to submit a balance sheet of the last five years.

"The lenders have decided not to engage any more with the parties,” said a senior executive of a public sector bank.

Arindam Majumder in New Delhi
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