Investors back away from Jet Airways deal

Etihad Airways decided against reinvesting in the troubled carrier because of 'unresolved issues concerning the airline's liabilities'
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Grounded Indian airline Jet Airways' hopes of revival suffered a setback, with Volcan Investment, the family Trust of London-based Indian billionaire businessman Anil Agarwal, backing out from investing in the debt-ridden carrier, having previously submitted an expression of interest (EoI).

Volcan Investment was among the three investor groups that submitted EoIs for Jet Airways by Saturday, the last date set for submission of EoIs by the Interim Resolution Professional (IRP) appointed for Jet Airways.

"Volcan’s interest in Jet was only exploratory in nature and on further evaluation, the Trust has decided not to pursue it,” a Vedanta Ltd spokesperson told AVB sister publication, Arabian Business.

Etihad Airways, which did not submit an EoI, said it decided against reinvesting in the troubled carrier because of “unresolved issues concerning the airline's liabilities”. 

"Etihad remained engaged in the process, but despite the endeavours of everyone involved there remained very significant issues relating to Jet's previous liabilities," the statement said.

Etihad currently holds 24 percent stake in Jet Airways.

After the backing out of Volcan Investment, only two potential bidders remain currently in the fray for Jet Airways.

The only criterion set by the IRP for bidding for Jet Airways is that prospective bidders should have a minimum net worth of $140 million (Rs. 1,000 crore).

The IRP is currently examining the EoIs to decide on their eligibility and expected to announce the shortlisted bidders soon.

SBI Capital Markets, which is advising the State Bank of India (SBI)-led lenders’ consortium to the grounded airline in the process of finding new investors for the carrier, is understood to have reached out to several potential investors, including overseas airlines and private equity (PE) investors, in the run up to the deadline for submitting EoIs.

Prior to getting admitted in the bankruptcy court on June 20, Jet's lenders had run a similar sale process that failed to attract any binding offers from bidders that met the cut-off criteria.

Aviation industry analysts said the same problems are playing out again, further eroding any value left in Jet.

“With Jet’s current stasis, it’s unlikely anyone will bother ponying up any money to rescue it. [It is] far better to let the assets [of the carrier] get stripped and procure them via a fire sale,” Saj Ahmad, chief analyst with London-based StrategicAero Research, had earlier told Arabian Business.

The debt-ridden airline is estimated to be facing a total claim of about $3.5 billion.

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