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Hope floats: Jet Airways lenders may have agreed to convert Rs 4,000 cr debt

Manisha Singhal
Jet Airways, Jet Airways lenders, SBI, Rajnish Kumar, Etihad Airways, Abu Dhabi, Tony Douglas

Lenders to financially struggling Jet Airways are understood to have agreed to convert Rs 4,000 crore nearly half of the airline s gross debt of Rs 8,411 crore (as on September 30 2018) to equity at Rs 1,sources close to the development told FE. The lenders will get equity equivalent to this swap in Jet. It is also understood that there will be fresh infusion of capital of about Rs 650 crore by the lenders. How much will the lenders hold post this restructuring in Jet could not be immediately ascertained but some reports earlier suggested that SBI will hold nearly 15% post the resolution plan is implemented. SBI did not respond to a query by FE on the same.

The ongoing restructuring or the resolution plan, with SBI as the lead lender, is being worked within RBI s February 12, 2018 resolution framework for stressed assets under which lenders can convert debt into equity at a discount to the market rate and under Sashakt, a five-pronged strategy proposed last year by a clutch of bankers to resolve bad loans.

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In a media interaction on Jet s debt restructuring, SBI chairman Rajnish Kumar had said, The outline is ready but implementation depends on government and regulatory approvals. The key stakeholders and Jet lenders met on January 8 in Mumbai to work out a broad plan agreeable to lenders, airline promoter Naresh Goyal and also Jet s foreign airline partner, the Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways that holds 24% in Jet.

The foreign joint venture airline has agreed to put in more money that will increase its existing stake substantially in the airline but with stringent riders that will require approval both from the civil aviation ministry and market regulator SEBI as it wants a waiver of open offer and pricing relaxation under substantial acquisition of shares and takeover code. Etihad infused Rs 252 crore in Jet by a pre-purchase of Jet Airway s tickets earlier this week.

Jet Airways has called for an EGM on February 21 at its Mumbai headquarters. The airline that has not paid its pilots full salaries for over six months now and is also in default of payments to banks and lessors has a challenging task to get the foreign partner aligned to its interest.

Etihad s CEO Tony Douglas in a mail to SBI chairman on January 15 stated Goyal should not be holding any board position and that his stake should not be more than 22% in the airline if Etihad goes ahead with the proposed investment which sources indicate can be around Rs 1,500 crore. Jet has sought an increase in the authorized share capital from Rs 200 crore to Rs 2200 crore.