Jet lenders make last push to find investors to pick up stake in airline

New Delhi, May 16: Etihad Airways’ conditional offer to be a minority stakeholder in Jet Airways has thrown lenders into a tizzy. With little signs of any investor willing to buy 76 per cent, the lenders’ consortium led by State Bank of India has now initiated a process to find investors who could hold small stakes along with Etihad.
The lenders are of the opinion that the ownership of Jet Airways can be divided between three entities, each holding 20 per cent, while Etihad could keep 24 per cent. If the lenders fail to find such investors in the next few days, the only option would be to take the airline to an NCLT-led insolvency process, a source in the know said.
Sources pegged the total investment required by Jet Airways to restart operations at Rs 5,950 crore. Etihad, in its offer, said it would be able to invest only Rs 1,700 crore and acquire only 24 per cent stake. “The total equity need has been assessed at Rs 5,950 crore, of which Rs 1,700 crore can come from Etihad.
“If another three investors can pick up 20 per cent each, a resolution can be possible. But I reiterate that the situation seems to be extremely difficult,” a senior bank executive said. SBI Caps has been told to reach out to prospective investors including companies which have submitted unsolicited bid, another source in a public sector bank pointed out.
“There are quite a few interested parties who have evinced interest to invest in the company. Etihad’s bid to acquire 24 per cent can form the basis for guidance and can be treated as some sort of a floor for other investors,” he said. However, the authenticity of the bids needs to be checked before taking a decision, sources close to the development said.
“The situation looks to be extremely difficult with Etihad unwilling to relax its conditions. While NCLT is not a favoured route, there will be no other option left,” the bank executive said. Jet Airways has a liability of around Rs 15,000 crore, including a bank debt of Rs 8,500 crore.