Jet Airways crisis: Lenders look to speed up Jet Privilege sale to Etihad

Published: April 11, 2019 5:02:12 AM

Four wide-bodied aircraft owned by the cash-strapped Jet Airways also likely to be sold.

The four wide-bodied Boeing aircraft that lenders are likely to sell, on an outright basis, are those with a “fairly small loan outstanding”.

By Mitali Salian

Having infused close to Rs 250 crore into the cash-strapped Jet Airways, bankers are now looking to quickly sell the airline’s remaining stake in Jet Privilege Pvt Ltd — the frequent-flyer programme — to Etihad Airways. While Jet owned 49.9% in Jet Privilege, it is understood to have pledged 15% with a foreign bank against a loan of $140 million.

Senior bankers familiar with the development said four wide-bodied aircraft owned by Jet Airways are also likely to be sold.

The objective of these measures, bankers explained, was to raise resources to keep the airline afloat while it scouted for buyers.

The four wide-bodied Boeing aircraft that lenders are likely to sell, on an outright basis, are those with a “fairly small loan outstanding”.

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The sale would fetch a reasonable amount of cash to supplement an amount of Rs 266 crore which a clutch of banks within the consortium have infused into the ailing carrier in the last 15 days.

According to one banker, the discussions with Etihad for the stake sale in Jet Privilege took place via video-conferencing. “These discussions are at a very early stage. We are exploring all possibilities that would bring in cash to help keep the airline a going concern until another interested party takes over,” he said.

Jet Privilege Private Limited (JPPL) is an independent, loyalty and rewards management company formed in 2014, following the strategic alliance between Jet Airways and Etihad Airways. Etihad Airways PJSC owns a 50.1% stake in the business.

Earlier this week, the State Bank of India-led consortium invited expressions of interest (EoIs) for control and management of the stressed Jet Airways.

In a clarification on Wednesday, SBI Caps said any proposed transaction with suitable interested bidders could include restructuring of existing facilities and infusion of funds by way of loans or acquisition or subscription of up to 75% of equity share capital of Jet Airways. The EOI document had earlier only mentioned acquisition of ownership of the company through change in control and management, and settlement of the obligations of company in relation to the existing facilities.

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Bidders now have until April 12 to put in their bids and till April 16 to submit hard copies of their EoIs.

While lenders have called for EoIs for sale of at least a 31.2% stake and a maximum of 75% stake in the airline, bankers are awaiting a clarification of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on conversion of a proposed debt-equity conversion at Rs 1. The conversion was based on provisions within the February 12 circular, which has been declared ultra vires by the Supreme Court, and would given lenders a 50.1% stake in the full-service carrier. Last month, the Jet board gave its nod to the allocation of 11.4 crore shares at an aggregate value of Rs 1 to the lenders’ consortium, as part of the Bank-Led provisional resolution plan (BLPRP).

The BLPRP estimated a funding gap of Rs 8,500 crore that was to be met by an appropriate mix of equity infusion, debt restructuring, sale or sale and leaseback or refinancing of aircraft.

Law firm Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas is understood to be looking into the legality of the proposed conversion of the banks’ loans into equity following the Supreme Court’s ruling that held the RBI’s February 12 circular ultra vires.

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