Jet Airways revival: Hinduja Group may start bidding for crisis-hit airline this week; to meet with Etihad Airways on 23 May

It seems the crisis of Jet Airways may be over soon as Hinduja Group is reportedly planning to initiate the bidding process for the temporarily grounded airline, said media reports. Moreover, the business group and Etihad Airways are expected to meet this week to explore ways to revive the cash-starved airline.

The Hinduja Group reportedly received the approval of the major stakeholders of Jet Airways such as its founder Naresh Goyal and Etihad Airways to go ahead with the bidding process, which may be initiated this week alone, said a report in The Economic Times.

As part of the bidding process, the Hinduja Group, which has over two-decade-long friendly relations with Goyal, engaged investment bankers led by SBI Capital Markets for due diligence, said the report quoting sources in the know of the matter.

Meanwhile, Hinduja Group and Etihad Airways are expected to meet in Abu Dhabi on 23 May in a bid to explore ways for reviving Jet Airways, said a report in Business Standard.

 Jet Airways revival: Hinduja Group may start bidding for crisis-hit airline this week; to meet with Etihad Airways on 23 May

Representational image. Reuters

In the crucial meeting, senior officials of State Bank of India (SBI) will also be present, said the report.

Last week, there were reports that lenders to Jet Airways and Etihad Airways had reportedly reached out to Hinduja Group offering a stake in the grounded airline.

Besides this, the SBI-led lenders' consortium had decided to start another round of search for investors in the absence of any major bidders coming up for the stake in Jet Airways, which had temporarily suspended its entire operations on 17 April following severe liquidity crunch.

Early this month, the lenders to Jet Airways planned to approach unsolicited bidders after its strategic partner Etihad Airways declined to hike its stake beyond 24 percent.

Etihad Airways offered to infuse close to Rs 1,400 crore in Jet Airways and was keen to maintain its stake in the debt-laden airline at the current level of 24 percent.

Earlier, two unsolicited bidders of Jet Airways approached Etihad Airways apparently showing interest to partner with the UAE-based airline, according to media reports.

Lakshay Uttam, which is part of the consortium that also includes British entrepreneur Jason Unsworth, and AdiGro Aviation, part of the AdiGroup, had approached Etihad Airways to join in the revival bid of Jet Airways.

On 15 May, top management of lesser-known Darwin Group, which was one of the unsolicited bidders for Jet Airways met officials of SBI Caps to discuss its proposal. The Group offered Rs 14,000-crore deal to the lenders for acquiring the grounded airline, its CEO Rahul Ganpule said.

Darwin Platform Group of Companies claims it has investments across various sectors including oil and gas, hospitality and realty, among others.

Last month, an employees' consortium of Jet Airways proposed to take over the airline with at least Rs 3,000 crore expected from outside investors for the bid. This is the first time that employees have come together with a proposal to run the more than 25-year-old Jet Airways.

Two associations representing pilots and engineers—SWIP and JAMEVA—have written to State Bank of India (SBI) Chairman Rajnish Kumar proposing that they would take over the airline and can bring in up to Rs 7,000 crore.

The Society for Welfare of Indian Pilots (SWIP) and the Jet Aircraft Maintenance Engineers Welfare Association (JAMEVA) have written a letter to the SBI chief asking the lead lender to consider "employee consortium" as an intending bidder for the carrier. While SWIP has around 800 members, there are about 500 employees with JAMEVA.

The sudden exodus of top executives at Jet Airways last week virtually shattered the lenders' hopes for a while to revive the airline at a time they were busy scouting for majority stakeholders in the debt-laden airline.

Six top-level executives quit the airline in a span of two days including its CEO Vinay Dube citing personal reasons.

On 16 May, Senior Vice President (Finance) Ravichandran Narayan and Senior Vice-President (Network and Revenue Management) Raj Sivakumar reportedly resigned from their positions.

On 14 May, the cash-starved carrier announced the exit of four executives — Dube, deputy CEO Amit Agarwal, Company Secretary Kuldeep Sharma, and Chief People Officer Rahul Taneja.

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Updated Date: May 22, 2019 14:51:42 IST