New Delhi/Mumbai: The lenders have no plans for a second restructuring of its loans to the country’s struggling Kingfisher Airlines, minister of state for finance said on Friday, in a move that indicates relief may not come easy for the debt-laden firm.
In March this year, the country’s third largest airline had issued shares to a consortium of 13 banks led by State Bank of India and allotted shares to its founders in a restructuring process that helped pare debt.
“State Bank of India, leader of the consortium, has stated that at present there is no such plan,” Union minister of state for finance, Namo Narain Meena said in Parliament, in answer to a query whether banks are planning to carry out a second restructuring of loans.
Government documents show that 19 banks have an exposure of Rs 6,419 crore to the airline. SBI, the country’s largest lender, has the maximum exposure of Rs 1,457 crore as of end November.
SBI has exceeded its exposure limit of Rs 1,436 crore, the documents show.
“The repayment to SBI in respect of advances by Kingfisher Airlines will commence from September 2012. Servicing of interest is being done with some delay,” Narain Meena said in a written reply to the Parliament.
Kingfisher, owned by flamboyant liquor tycoon Vijay Mallya, is desperately scouting for funds from potential investors and more cushion from its banks to stay afloat.
“Debt is not an option at all for Kingfisher. At the end of the day, debt and interest payments have overburdened the airline,” said Kapil Kaul, chief executive for the Indian subcontinent and Middle East at the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA), an aviation consulting firm.
“What Kingfisher needs is an equity infusion of $200-$250 million urgently. Without bringing in equity there is no game.”
The airline, which has been late in paying salaries, hit national headlines ever since it cancelled hundreds of flights in November in a move to cut costs and exit loss-making routes.
However, its problems multiplied with Mumbai airport putting it on cash-and-carry and service tax officials freezing 11 of its bank accounts for non-payment of dues.
“We are considering taking legal action against Kingfisher for not paying service tax,” S.K. Goel, chairman, Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) said on Friday.
A Kingfisher Airlines spokesman declined to comment.
Most Indian carriers, including state-run Air India, are troubled by rising fuel costs and price wars emanating from intense competition.
The country’s airlines are on course to post record losses of more than $2.5 billion for the year ending March 2012, and investors have become wary of an industry that, just a few years back, ordered hundreds of aircraft in an ambitious bet on the future.
Assets As Collateral
Kingfisher Airlines has pledged its brand as collateral with its lender consortium for Rs 4,100 crore, government documents showed. The brand valuation was done by Grant Thorton in 2010.
Kingfisher is one of the country’s most successful brands, ranked 116 by Campaign magazine in its top 1,000 Asia brands list for 2011, with only one Indian brand - Amul - higher.
Over and above the brand hypothecation, Kingfisher has also pledged collateral security worth about Rs 1,130 crore, including properties in Mumbai and Goa, helicopters and ground support and office equipment.
Kingfisher chairman Vijay Mallya has given personal guarantees of Rs 248 crore to the banks while the airline’s parent United Breweries Holdings has given corporate guarantees worth Rs 1,600 crore.
Kingfisher, which has a negative networth, aims to cut its current debt by 42% to Rs 3,720 crore through sale and lease-back of aircraft, sale of a property in Mumbai and conversion of rupee loans into lower interest foreign loans.
The airline is targeting an interest cost reduction of Rs 394 crore per annum.
Shares in Kingfisher, valued at $240.11 million, closed down 3.82% at Rs 23.95 in a weak Mumbai market.
The stock has lost more than 62% of its value so far this year, compared with a 21% fall in the main 30-share index.