Russia’s Far East Development Fund has shown interest to bid for Jet Airways (India) Ltd, said one person with direct knowledge of the matter, requesting anonymity.
The development comes on a day when the committee of creditors (CoC) met to discuss whether the date for the submission of bids should be extended after potential suiters of the debt-laden airline, including Delhi-based Prudent ARC Ltd and South America’s Synergy Group, failed to meet the deadline.
After Tuesday’s meeting Jet’s lenders led by State Bank of India (SBI) voted to extend the deadline to 9 March, the person added. The 270-day deadline for completing the insolvency process ends on 15 March.
Subsequently, it may be referred for liquidation, unless the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) agrees to give an extension.
The Far East Development Fund was established by the Russian government for infrastructure financing. It facilitates investments in the Far East and Baikal regions, providing preferential and long-term financing for prioritized investment projects across industries such as infrastructure, upstream and downstream production of minerals, small and medium enterprises and agriculture, according to its website. The fund has assets of RUB59,6 billion (approximately $937 million) under management.
Synergy Group, which is controlled by Bolivia-born Germán Efromovich, and is engaged in aviation, energy, and telecom, was the sole contender for Jet Airways’ bidding process initiated last year, though the conglomerate did not make a binding bid after seeking several extensions.
On 15 January, Mint had reported that Prudent ARC has also submitted an initial bid.
Lenders to Jet Airways, however, doubt the seriousness of the two entities about their bids because neither had “put enough people on the assignment, nor made any statutory payment".
While Synergy wants Jet’s lenders to take a huge haircut on the airline’s debt of over ₹8,500 crore, it will also need to find an Indian partner for the acquisition, as mandated by India’s foreign investment rules.
Another challenge is the financials of Synergy, which has seen some of the airlines it fully or partially owned shutting shop over the last few years.
Jet Airways was grounded on 18 April 2019 as a result of a severe cash crunch.
On 20 June, the Mumbai bench of NCLT had admitted Jet Airways under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code. A consortium of 26 banks led by SBI had approached the NCLT to recover the loans. Jet has a negative net worth and accumulated losses of over ₹13,000 crore.
Jet Airways shares lost 4.9% on Tuesday to close at ₹26.20 apiece on BSE, while the benchmark index, Sensex, lost 0.39% to close at 40,894.38 points.