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Jet Airways sale: Lenders ease terms to attract buyers

FE Bureau
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The relatively easy terms on which lenders to the cash-strapped Jet Airways are willing to sell the carrier should attract at least a couple of buyers. While not specifying a floor price, lenders are willing to hand over the airline to a strategic bidder with a minimum net worth of Rs 1,000 crore or even a three-year track record in commercial aviation.

A financial investor should have minimum assets under management of Rs 2,000 crore or must commit to an investment of Rs 1,000 crore. The qualification criteria have been waived for government-promoted funds and quasi sovereign wealth funds. National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF), India s sovereign wealth fund, is reportedly seeking to invest in the Mumbai-based carrier.

The lenders have put on sale an equity stake of between 31.2% and 75%, according to the expression of interest (EoI) document released on Monday. The carrier, which has accumulated losses of Rs 3,208 crore, commands an enterprise value of approximately Rs 11,000 crore. The Jet stock closed at Rs 264 on the BSE on Monday, up 3% over Friday s close.

Currently, lenders have with them 31.2% of the equity capital of the airline; these shares were pledged with them by promoter Naresh Goyal.

The conversion of loans into 11.4 crore equity shares to yield a stake of 50.5% is pending clarification by Reserve Bank of India(RBI) since this process was initiated under the February 12 circular. The circular was declared ultra vires by the Supreme Court on April 2.

Under the debt resolution plan approved by the Jet board on March 25, lenders will acquire an equity stake in the airline and infuse Rs 1,500-crore. The carrier s founder and promoter Naresh Goyal, as well as his wife Anita Goyal, have stepped down from the board. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) rules cap the investment by foreign airlines in an Indian carrier at 49%.

State Bank of India (SBI) is the lead lender to Jet, which had a gross debt over Rs 8,400 crore as on September 2018. The full service carrier, which commanded a 16.8% share of the domestic market in February 2018, reported a share of 11.4% for February. While a strategic bidder needs to have a minimum net worth of Rs 1,000 crore or at least three years of experience in the commercial aviation business, a financial investor should have minimum assets under management of Rs 2,000 crore or committed funds that can be invested of Rs 1,000 crore.

A consortium should not comprise more than three members and the shareholding of an individual member should not be less than 15%. Last week, the lenders led by SBI had said other options may be considered if efforts for the stake sale don t produce the desired result. Jet has far grounded 71 aircraft and was operating only 26 till last week. Its employees have not been paid salaries since January and pilots have threatened not to fly if the dues are not cleared by April 14. The lenders consortium, comprising nine public and private sector banks, have sought bids by April 10. Interested bidders can send queries by April 9, the document said.

Subject to receipt of relevant approvals/consents and Applicable Law, acquisition of at least 3,54,42,383 (three crores fifty four lakhs forty two thousand three hundred eighty three) equity shares of the Company, comprising of 31.2% (thirty one point two per cent) of equity share capital of the Company, on fully diluted basis and up to a maximum of 8,51,98,037 (eight crores fifty one lakhs ninety eight thousand thirty seven) equity shares of the Company, comprising of 75% (seventy five per cent) equity share capital of the Company, on fully diluted basis, the document stated.