Lenders to Jet Airways (India) Ltd will begin reaching out to unsolicited bidders for the grounded airline after existing shareholder Etihad Airways PJSC declined to raise its stake beyond the current 24%, said two people aware of the development, requesting anonymity.
They said Etihad has offered to infuse close to ₹1,400 crore in Jet Airways, aimed at keeping its stake at the current level.
“For Jet Airways, which has total liabilities of ₹15,000 crore, this is hardly enough," said the first person cited above.
The lenders, who currently control Jet Airways, have therefore decided to approach a group of bidders who have shown interest in taking a stake in the carrier after the formal bidding process closed on 10 May, the person added.
Mint reported on Monday that Etihad’s bid last week was non-binding in nature and is subject to fulfilment of certain conditions by Jet’s lenders. Etihad said also that it is interested in re-investing in a minority stake in Jet Airways subject to conditions that include finding more investors.
“Etihad re-emphasizes that it cannot be expected to be the sole investor, and that, amongst other requirements, additional suitable investors would need to provide the majority of Jet Airways’ required recapitalization," Etihad said in a statement on Friday.
Etihad, India’s National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) and private equity firms TPG Capital and Indigo Partners had in April submitted their expressions of interest (EoIs) as part of a bidding process for a stake in Jet Airways.
Among the bidders, NIIF had been exempted from submitting an EoI as it is a quasi-sovereign wealth fund and can submit a bid later. “NIIF is evaluating the resolution process and may invest at a later date depending upon whether lenders are able to find enough investors," the second person said.
The State Bank of India (SBI), which leads the consortium of lenders, received two unsolicited bids for Jet Airways, SBI chairman Rajnish Kumar said on 10 May, without disclosing their names. Etihad also submitted a sealed bid later during the day. Meanwhile, British entrepreneur Jason Unsworth, who claims to be a part of a consortium interested to invest in Jet Airways, told Mint on Friday that he is keen to partner with Etihad. “I have now listed three main lenders in the consortium as Atmosphere Airlines, My World Ventures and Future Trend Capital," Unsworth said, adding he has also written to SBI chairman Kumar.
In addition, Adi Group, a UK-based investment firm said it has already met officials of Etihad for a partnership in its bid for Jet Airways. A group of minority shareholders of Jet Airways, led by Sankaran Raghunathan, had earlier sought permission from SBI Capital Markets Ltd (SBI Caps), which is handling the bidding contest, to present a proposal to lenders that would revive the airline.
Queries sent to NIIF, SBI Caps and the SBI didn’t elicit any response till press time.