New Delhi, May 18 (IANS) It may not be over till it is over. Even as some industry veterans believe that grounded Jet Airways may have hit the end of the road, State Bank of India (SBI) Chairman Rajnish Kumar remains optimistic that clarity over the future course of the airline will emerge in a week’s time.
“Various options are being evaluated. Legal opinion is being taken. There are many investors who are showing interest. We have to see whether they have the money and the wherewithal. I think the clarity should emerge in a week’s time,” the SBI top boss told IANS on Saturday.
Asked if there are investors other than those who have submitted unsolicited offers, Kumar said that there are some but their seriousness will have to be checked.
Lenders of Jet Airways, led by the SBI, are currently in the process of selling the airline to recover their dues of over Rs 8,400 crore. Private equity firm TPG Capital, Indigo Partners, National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) and Etihad Airways were shortlisted to submit their bids after they put forward their Expression of Interest (EoI).
But on May 10, the last date for submitting the binding bids, only Etihad gave its offer and that too in the eleventh hour. The other two bids received for the airline were unsolicited. Subsequently, the lenders are learnt to have got an offer from a Mumbai-based business group.
While the lenders are vetting various proposals, most of the top Jet executives, including its Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and Company Secretary, have resigned from their respective positions citing personal reasons. Close on the heels of the resignation of the airline’s whole-time director Gaurang Shetty, Etihad nominee on the board Robin Kamark stepped down on May 16.
Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways, which holds 24 per cent stake in the crisis-hit Jet Airways, is currently the only solicited bidder for a stake in the airline. But experts have found its bid unattractive for the lenders given the multiple riders attached to it.
Besides offering to invest just Rs 1,700 crore against the requirement of Rs 15,000 crore to revive the crisis-hit airline, Etihad has in its proposal put the onus of finding a majority buyer on the lenders. The Gulf carrier also wants exemption from making an open offer in case its stake goes beyond 26 per cent.
(Nirbhay Kumar can be contacted at email@example.com)