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Tuesday, 13 August, 2019, 11 : 15 AM [IST]

Won’t pursue EoI in Jet Airways: Anil Agarwal

Chances of a revival of Jet Airways (India) Ltd faded, with billionaire Anil Agarwal’s Volcan Investment, which had submitted an expression of interest (EoI) for the grounded airline, deciding not to pursue the matter. In a statement on Monday, Agarwal said the EoI submitted by his family trust was exploratory in nature, reports Rhik Kundu in Mint.

“On further evaluation and considering other priorities, we intend to not pursue this further," he added.

Agarwal said India is among the largest and fastest growing aviation markets in the world, while adding that he is optimistic that other airlines and investors will look at this opportunity.

Jet Airways’ lenders, who have been trying to sell the airline as a going concern for the past five months, had received three EoIs on Saturday—from Volcan, Panama-based fund Avantulo Group and a Russian firm. The identity of the Russian firm couldn’t be ascertained.

The EoIs are technically not bids, but they have helped lenders sense the level of interest in the airline.
Etihad Airways PJSC, which owns a 24% stake in Jet Airways, said it decided against submitting an EoI due to unresolved issues concerning the Mumbai-based airline’s liabilities.

The Gulf airline had in May submitted a non-binding conditional EoI for Jet Airways to pick up a minority shareholding. However, among its conditions, Etihad wanted a commitment from banks on additional loans.
The company also sought an exemption from an open offer that may be triggered by a change in ownership following its investment.

“Etihad remained engaged in the process, but despite the endeavours of everyone involved, there remained very significant issues relating to Jet’s previous liabilities," Etihad said in a statement.

“Regrettably, in these circumstances, it was neither feasible nor responsible of Etihad to reinvest in Jet at this time," it added.

In 2013, Etihad had acquired a 24% stake Jet Airways for USD 379 million (around INR 2,060 crore then).

“Etihad acquired a 24% stake in Jet in 2013, at a time when Jet needed significant financial support. Since then, Etihad has consistently and constructively sought and advanced solutions to help resolve Jet’s issues," the statement said. “But as a minority shareholder, Etihad has had limited capacity to secure required changes."

Jet Airways grounded its operations in April due to an acute fund crunch.

On 20 June, the Mumbai bench of the National Company Law Tribunal admitted the company under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code. A consortium of 26 banks led by the State Bank of India had approached the tribunal to recover dues of more than INR 8,500 crore.

However, lenders to Jet Airways are finding it difficult to sell the airline. They had extended the last date of submission of EoIs to 10 August to accommodate bids that came in after the due date.

Access to prime slots at key airports, a stake in a profitable frequent flyer programme and a few relatively old planes appear to be the only assets before potential bidders of the grounded Jet Airways. (Source: Mint)
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