Jet Airways crisis: Etihad not to infuse funds till resolution approval

While Etihad did not agree to most of the points put forward by the lenders, sources said Goyal was agreeable on most the points.

Jet Airways founder Naresh Goyal

Etihad Airways is unwilling to infuse any funds in the interim in Jet Airways. Sources said the Abu Dhabi-based airline, which has a 24% stake in Jet, has decided to infuse funds only after a bank-led resolution plan (BLRP), which is being piloted by State Bank of India, is finalised and approved. Meanwhile, Jet Airways founder Naresh Goyal has agreed to step down as chairman of the airline’s board.

Etihad’s stance was conveyed to the bankers and Jet Airways at a meeting called by SBI on Wednesday in which Etihad’s CEO Tony Douglas and Jet’s chairman Naresh Goyal were also present. The meeting was held by SBI chairman Rajneesh Kumar.

While Etihad did not agree to most of the points put forward by the lenders, sources said Goyal was agreeable on most the points.

Since the BLRP’s finalisation and approval from all the concerned stakeholders will take time, the airline needed funds in the interim to pay its pilots, vendors and aircraft leasing firms.

As is known, the bank-led resolution plan includes infusion of funds, restructuring of debt and the monetisation of assets. The BLRP has estimated a funding gap of around Rs 8,500 crore (including proposed repayment of aircraft debt of around Rs 1,700 crore) which will be met by appropriate mix of equity infusion, debt restructuring, sale/sale and leaseback/refinancing of aircraft, among other things.

The BLRP needs to be approved by the consortium of lenders, the overseeing committee of the Indian Bankers’ Association, the board of directors of Etihad Airways, and the promoter of Jet Airways. It would also require the approval of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi), ministry of civil aviation, and the Competition Commission of India.

Once approved by all the required sections, lenders led by SBI would become the largest stakeholders in the airline. The stake of Goyal would come down to around 20-22% from the current 51%.

The lenders had originally proposed a rights issue of shares worth Rs 4,000 crore, in which SBI and other banks could have infused Rs 600 crore and the state-owned NIIF Rs 1,400 crore for the shares of the airlines. However, Etihad wants a rights issue worth Rs 5,000 crore while expecting SBI-led lenders and NIIF to bring an additional Rs 1,000 crore. Etihad wants to restrict its contribution to Rs 1,400 crore and does not want to pledge its shares.

At Wednesday’s meeting, sources said that it was agreed to increase the rights issue to Rs 5,000 crore. Both Etihad and NIIF are likely to put in Rs 1,800 crore each, Goyal Rs 250 crore and the balance will be put by the lenders.

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