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MUMBAI/NEW DELHI : Lenders to Jet Airways (India) Ltd have extended until Saturday the deadline for submitting expressions of interest (EoIs) to invest in the grounded airline to accommodate a potential bidder, which submitted an EoI after the expiry of the deadline, a person with direct knowledge of the matter said.

“The deadline has been extended to 31 August after a foreign conglomerate showed interest to invest in the airline post the deadline," the person said on condition of anonymity.

South American conglomerate Synergy Group Corp., which owns a majority stake in Colombian carrier Avianca Holdings, the second-largest airline in South America, has shown preliminary interest in Jet Airways, according to media reports.

Synergy submitted an EoI after the deadline expired on 10 August.

The EoIs are technically not bids, but they have helped lenders gauge the level of interest in the debt-laden airline. The consortium of banks led by the State Bank of India is, however, expecting these entities to put in bids, as the deadline was extended to accommodate EoIs from some of them.

Access to prime slots at key airports, a stake in a profitable frequent flyer programme and a few relatively old planes appear to be the only assets before a potential bidder.

The lenders had received just three EoIs before the deadline—from billionaire Anil Agarwal’s family trust Volcan Investments, Panama-based Avantulo Group and Russian fund Treasury RA Creator.

Soon after, Volcan Investments withdrew its interest, while Avantulo was not shortlisted, leaving only Treasury RA Creator in the fray.

Some are, however, not convinced that Jet Airways can be revived with a new investor.

“There is hardly any value left in the airline, as most of its talent has already left the carrier after its grounding. At present, the only value potential buyers can get from Jet Airways is its slots at busy airports, a stake in its frequent flyer programme and a few planes," said an industry executive, who requested anonymity.

“The lenders will be asked to take a huge haircut if someone really bids for the airline," the person added.

Meanwhile, the committee of creditors for Jet Airways that met on Monday could not decide on an interim funding plan.

“The lenders have informed the resolution professional that it shouldn’t be made mandatory for banks to participate in the interim funding process," said the first person cited earlier.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gopika Gopakumar

Gopika Gopakumar has worked for over 15 years as a banking journalist across print and television media. Her expertise lies in breaking big corporate stories and producing news based TV shows. She was part of the 2013 IMF Journalism Fellowship Program where she covered the Annual & Spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund in Washington D.C. She started her career with CNBC-TV18, where she also produced a news feature show called Indianomics and an award winning show on business stories from South India called Up South. She joined Mint in 2016.
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