New Delhi: In a new twist to the Jet Airway saga, its erstwhile promoter Naresh Goyal is said to be planning to bid for the airline from which he had to step down as chairman last month only.
This is being seen as a dramatic comeback, when the former chairman will be chalking out plans to submit an expression of interest (EoI) for the distressed Jet fleet.
Official sources said in the absence of strong interest from buyers, Goyal's possible bid could at least see some concrete movement with a certain roadmap and prevent any chance of its heading towards National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT).
Bankers fear once it goes to the NCLT, recovery of their loans will be late and with haircuts.
Sources in the knowledge of developments said Goyal was expected to submit an EoI on Thursday but it could not be ascertained if he was joining the fray alone or in partnership with private equity players.
The fact that Goyal could still enter the Jet Airways was clear on March 27 when State Bank of India (SBI) chairman Rajnish Kumar said the buyer could be anyone, a financial investor, an airline. There is no legal bar on anyone with a funding and revival plan in place. The option is open for anyone including Naresh Goyal and Etihad to bid for the stake.
Goyal had stepped down as chairman of the airline on 25 March as part of a deal with lenders. Banks were then expected to bring in ₹1,500 crore in emergency funding, and then look for a new owner. However, banks have transferred just a small part of the funding of few hundred crores and instead called for an EoI from interested bidders looking to take control of the Jet Airways.
While the deadline was set for April 10, SBI Capital, which is overseeing the bidding process, extended it by two days to April 12 owing to poor response.
The SBI is leading the consortium of lenders that has an exposure of ₹8,500 crore to the cash strapped airline.
On April 10, SBI Capital said it has received some EoIs and has extended the deadline in an attempt to clear the way for more suitors.
Clarifying on the EoI guidelines, the lenders said they have now allowed restructuring of the debt and infusion of funds by way of loans or acquisition of up to 75 per cent stake in the company.
The earlier announced guideline mandated the buyer to "settle" loan obligations of Jet Airways. The troubled airline has a debt of over ₹8,500 crore.
Apart from Etihad Airways, which holds 24 per cent stake in Jet Airways, other interested players include private equity majors, and sovereign fund National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF).