Maran to take over as SpiceJet chief, likely to revamp board

Maran to take over as SpiceJet chief, likely to revamp board
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First Published: Sun, Jun 20 2010. 10 06 PM IST

Flight plan: A file photo of Kalanithi Maran. Some of the existing SpiceJet board members may have to make way for the new entrants.
Flight plan: A file photo of Kalanithi Maran. Some of the existing SpiceJet board members may have to make way for the new entrants.
Updated: Sun, Jun 20 2010. 10 06 PM IST
New Delhi: Half a dozen new board members are likely to join India’s second largest low-cost carrier SpiceJet Ltd, in which Kalanithi Maran’s Kal Airways Pvt. Ltd acquired a 38% stake earlier this month and has made an open offer to buy another 20%.
Flight plan: A file photo of Kalanithi Maran. Some of the existing SpiceJet board members may have to make way for the new entrants.
The new board members will include Maran, Kavery Kalanithi Maran, M.K. Harinarayanan, J. Ravindran, S. Sridharan and Nicholas Martin Paul, who are already the board members of Kalanithi Maran’s Sun TV Network Ltd, two aviation ministry officials said.
Maran, a south Indian media baron who runs 20 television channels and two general interest newspapers, is also expected to become the Gurgaon-based airlines’s new chairman and managing director, the officials said, requesting anonymity.
But with the rules not allowing for more than a 12-strong board and the carrier already having more than half a dozen board members, some of them may have to make way for the new entrants, one of the officials said.
SpiceJet’s chief executive officer Sanjay Aggarwal was unavailable for comment.
The second aviation official said the new names will be sent to the home ministry for clearance, even though they are from Sun TV, which already holds permission to run a chartered airline.
Sun TV has owned and operated a 22-seater Global Express XRS since late 2008, according to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, India’s civil aviation watchdog.
Since the buyout, SpiceJet has also requested the aviation ministry to allow it to change the company’s name to Sun Airways Ltd, the aviation ministry officials said.
But analysts said changing the name may backfire as SpiceJet is already an established brand among low-cost carriers.
“If Maran wants to ensure maximum growth, he would be better off keeping the brand unchanged,” said Saj Ahmad, a London-based aerospace analyst. “Whatever the reason, the Maran-SpiceJet deal is one that will almost certainly have the other...airlines of India seriously worried—and rightly so.”
SpiceJet’s share price rose 1.5% to Rs59.90 at the close on Friday on the Bombay Stock Exchange.
The airline, which started operations in May 2005, has a fleet of 20 Boeing 737 aircraft running 137 daily flights to 19 cities in India. Five more Boeing 737 aircraft are set to join the fleet this fiscal.
The carrier recently won rights to fly to nearby international destinations, including Bangladesh, Nepal and the Maldives. Its Boeing 737 aircraft can also help it tap West Asian and South-East Asian routes.
tarun.s@livemint.com
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First Published: Sun, Jun 20 2010. 10 06 PM IST