The Hinduja group would be keen to take over Jet Airways, provided lenders agree to take a substantial haircut on their dues and founder Naresh Goyal gives his consent to the takeover. A top official of the group said it sees value in the airline, which is going through a crisis.
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“We may look at the airline provided banks agree to take a haircut on debt. The high debt is unsustainable,” said a source close to the development. Jet Airways owes Rs 9,000 crore to banks and has defaulted to banks, suppliers and employees. Its operations have shut down due to lack of funds.
If both banks and Goyal agree, the group will start talks with Etihad, which had made a bid for the airline last week. Goyal owned 51 per cent stake in the airline of which 41 per cent stake is pledged with the lenders. “Goyal has run the airline like his own baby and we do not want to take any action unless he agrees,” the source said.
“Traffic from India is growing substantially and we think, in association with Etihad, we can turn around the airline,” the official said, adding that the group was contacted three days ago for a joint venture.
The airline industry in India has already witnessed similar meltdowns with SpiceJet making a spectacular turnaround after a similar situation. “The airline would need a professional management like other Hinduja group companies where the family members do not interfere in the day-to-day operations of any company,” said the source. Traffic from India is growing and there is a need for an another airline to meet the demand, he added.
The Hinduja group runs successful companies in India, including in commercial vehicle major Ashok Leyland, lubricants player Gulf Oil and has stake in IndusInd Bank. Jet Airways stock was down 4.18 per cent on Wednesday to close at Rs 123.7 a share.