Finally, struggling low-cost airline SpiceJet may get a saviour. According to media reports citing sources, the airline's co-founder Ajay Singh is likely to come to the rescue. Reports say Singh is in talks with various foreign investors to raise funds and buy stake in the company.
It is sort of buying back an airline he had started way back in 2005. In 2010, Kalanithi Maran had taken control of SpiceJet by buying stakes from the Kanshagra family and Wilbur Ross. Singh, who was a director with the company, also sold some of his stake, which stood around 10 percent then. He still holds more four percent stake in the company but is not a director.
Here are seven facts you need to know about the Singh.
1) First and foremost, he was a member of the BJP's election campaign committee and is credited with coining the slogan, ab ki baar Modi sarkaar.
2) During the earlier NDA rule, he was officer on special duty in telecom and IT, and information and broadcasting. He is credited with penning the National Telecom Policy and the Information Technology Act.
3) It was his friendship with late BJP leader Pramod Mahajan that catapulted him into the limelight. Mahajan was the telecom and IT minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government. "I learnt a lot from Mahajan. It was a delight to work with him. He was a great human being with unlimited dynamism," Singh has been quoted as saying in this Business Standard profile.
4) He is a serial entrepreneur. Apart from SpiceJet, he also had an auto parts business, which he started with Honda Motor's former president BVR Subbu. He is also a turnaround specialist. His magic stint as the director swung the loss-making Delhi Transport Corporation into profit. When he got involved with SpiceJet, the airline was struggling. And in three years, the company managed to 17 aircraft and connected 18 destinations across the country, an article in the Outlook magazine said.
5) How did he achieve success with SpiceJet? He studied business models of international budget airlines like RyanAir closely. Captain Gopinath's Air Deccan also was a learning experience. He doesn't mince his words while criticising Gopinath, who sold his airline to Vijay Mallya, who later grounded it. "His intentions were great, but his model was flawed," Singh has been quoted as saying of Captain GR Gopinath in the Outlook article. "SpiceJet is the result of the right team, the right brand and the right execution," the BS article quotes. His ambition was to make SpiceJet the McDonald's of the aviation industry.
6) So will he be able to turn SpiceJet around again? Singh definitely has a no-nonsense idea. The company has to have the right strategy, he says. "Basically get to one class aircraft flying to few destinations, flying frequently to those few destinations, work very hard to bring down costs again and focus on profitable routes, concentrate on increasing the yields and make sure that they desist from fire sales," he told CNBC-TV18 in a recent interview. So, if indeed Singh returns, will that the end of discount offers from SpiceJet? If yes, it would bode well for the entire industry.
7) He is a sports buff and an arts collector too. According to the Outlook article, Singh was the captain of his school cricket team, when Shah Rukh Khan was the wicket keeper. "Sports inculcates the spirit of leadership and teamwork. It also teaches you how to act in adversity and press home advantages for your team. Running a business is very similar," he says in the article.
Will Singh's sportsman spirit and business acumen lift SpiceJet out of the trouble? The answer is anybody's guess.
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Updated Date: Dec 19, 2014 14:33:05 IST