Mumbai: KAL Airways Pvt. Ltd, an associate company of Kalanithi Maran, on Thursday picked up a 7.68% stake in Gurgaon-based carrier SpiceJet Ltd through an off-market transaction even as the media baron is set to assume chairmanship of India’s second largest low-fare carrier next week.

Following this transaction, Maran’s and his associate company’s combined stake in SpiceJet rises to 66.2%.

In driver’s seat: The combined stake of Maran and his associate company in SpiceJet now stands at 66.2%.

Mint could not immediately ascertain the changes in stakeholding pattern following this development. It is also not known at what price Maran bought the stake.

SpiceJet fell 3.74% to end at 88.85 per share on Thursday on the Bombay Stock Exchange or BSE.

The airline has been converting foreign currency convertible bonds (FCCBs) into equity in phases.

Maran will induct at least five more directors on to the airline’s board at the 15 November meeting and at least two of the existing directors will tender their resignations, according to two SpiceJet executives.

Atul Sharma, Ajay Singh and Ranjeet Nabha have quit the board since August. The original SpiceJet promoter, Bhupendra (Bhulo) Kansagra, will continue to remain on the board. Neil Mills, former chief financial officer of the West Asian low-cost start-up flydubai, had taken charge as SpiceJet’s new chief executive officer in October.

Sun TV Network Ltd chief Maran, who runs 20 television channels and two general newspapers in south India, paid 746 crore in June for a 37.7% stake in the airline.

He recently concluded the public offer to buy an additional 20% stake in line with the nation’s takeover rules. The 18 October-6 November open offer was at 57.76 a share, 53.82% lower than its current price. Maran bought stakes from Kansagra and distressed-assets buyout specialist Wilbur L. Ross.

In a recent communication to BSE, SpiceJet said the 15 November board meeting will be convened to facilitate the change of guard and comply with the takeover rules of the capital market regulator.

Maran will also approve the airline’s decision to buy 30 Q400 NextGen turboprop aircraft from Bombardier Inc. of Canada for connecting small cities, said a SpiceJet executive. The move marks a shift from its policy of owning and operating one type of aircraft (Boeing 737s). The deliveries of these small planes will start from the second quarter of the next calendar year.

SpiceJet is in a much better position to execute its plans as it has got a strong promoter, analysts said.

The $450 million (Rs 5,403 crore) order for 15 Q400s with an option for 15 more follows a $2.7 billion order for 30 Boeing 737 aircraft placed by carrier earlier this year.

“SpiceJet has six deliveries of B737s scheduled until FY12 (roughly one every quarter). The company is expected to get three more B737s by end of FY11. SpiceJet has further started negotiations with Bombardier to get up to 30 aircraft starting from mid-FY12.

“With this, coupled with the earlier Boeing order of 30 aircraft, SpiceJet has tied up its fleet expansion plans for the next five-seven years. This will enable SpiceJet to capture the strong domestic demand," said a recent report of international brokerage BofA Merrill Lynch.

SpiceJet made a profit of 10 crore in the three months ended September against a loss of 101.29 crore in the year-ago period as passenger traffic continued to grow and 25.17 crore from the sale and lease-back of planes.

pr.sanjai@livemint.com

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