Promoter-chairman of the cash-strapped airline writes to SBI; puts condition that his stake should not drop below 25%.
With the Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways putting strict conditions for infusing funds into the cash-strapped airline, Jet Airways promoter-chairman Naresh Goyal has offered to invest up to `700 crore in the airline as well as pledge all his shares on the condition that his stake does not fall below 25%.
Goyal’s condition, outlined in a letter to State Bank of India (SBI) chairman Rajnish Kumar, is with reference to the resolution plan under discussion by the lenders and in view of Etihad’s condition that it will infuse funds only if Goyal gives up control and his stake comes down to around 22% from the current 51% and that he has no role in the functioning of the airline.
Etihad currently holds 24% stake in Jet and has offered an investment proposition in the cash-strapped carrier at Rs 150 per share, a discount of around 49% to Jet’s closing price on Tuesday, along with an immediate infusion of $35 million with its set of conditions. Etihad is looking to raise its stake to 49%, the maximum a foreign carrier can have in an Indian airline under the foreign direct investment laws for the sector.
Goyal said in his letter that he is committed to an infusion of funds into the firm to the extent of `700 crore and pledging all his shares but this is subject to the condition that his shareholding post such infusion is at least 25%. “Should this not be possible, I would not be able to infuse any funds or pledge my shares, unless Sebi accords me an exemption permitting me to increase my reduced stake (if it is to be below 25%) without triggering the Takeover Code,” he said.
Meanwhile, SBI on Thursday said lenders are considering a resolution plan for Jet Airways to ensure long-term viability of the debt-laden company. “We would like to state that lenders are considering a restructuring plan under the RBI framework for resolution of stressed assets that would ensure a long-term viability of the company,” the bank said in a statement.
It said the restructuring plan for the cash-strapped airline would need approval from boards of lenders.
“Any such plan would be subject to approval of boards of the lenders and subject to adherence and clearance, if required, from the RBI and/or Sebi (takeover code, ICDR regulations.) and ministry of civil aviation and in compliance with all regulatory prescriptions,” the statement said.
SBI is the lead lender of a consortium of Indian banks that has provided loans to the airline.
On December 31, 2018, Jet defaulted on a loan repayment to the consortium.
On Wednesday, Jet had said that discussions are “progressing well” with stakeholders on a comprehensive resolution plan that also contemplates equity infusion and consequent changes in its board of directors.
“I am informed that under Indian law, amounts payable by the company to promoter group entities, should be treated at par with the other overdue creditors of the company and the same, upon conversion into equity
is considered as cash,” Goyal said in the letter. He has also sought a fair and equitable resolution in the best interests of the airline and all its shareholders.
“I respectfully submit that unless my shareholding goes below 10% and/or my group is not represented on the board, I would continue to be held out as a promoter, and be faced with the attendant exposures/ risks of being a promoter,” Goyal said in the letter. Hence, it is only fair and equitable that “our shareholding be at least 25%,” he said.
Jet has been working on various cost cutting measures, debt reduction and funding options. For instance, it has deferred deliveries of Boeing 737 MAX planes. The airline was to induct 11 Boeing 737 MAX planes by March this year and so far it has taken delivery of only 5 such aircraft.
The civil aviation ministry had on Wednesday, expressed hope that the airline, its strategic partner Etihad and lenders reach a “common plan” to deal with the situation.
Jet’s shares rose over 5% to close at `284.80 on the BSE on Thursday.