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NEWSMAKER: Bhupendra Kansagra

Getting ready for a safe landing

Manisha Singhal  |  New Delhi 

Kansagra, a London-based NRI, holds 12.91 per cent in the airline along with his brother Suresh Kansagra. The family's share lock in period in the airline ended in February this year. SpiceJet has a market capitalisation of $250 million.

Kansagra's statement came at a time when the industry is talking about the next round of consolidation and a possible merger of low-cost carriers like SpiceJet, GoAir and IndiGo with bigger airlines.

"Everybody is bleeding in the industry, the cost of jet fuel is exorbitant," he said referring to the losses airlines are making due to the escalating air turbine fuel costs.

Seemingly, the low-cost model is no "value for money" under the current circumstances for this 51-year-old Economics graduate from Harrow College of Further Education (London).

The Kansagras bought a stake in SpiceJet, then known as ModiLuft, from SK Modi at Rs 10 per share after a round of legal battles in 2000. The sagging airline was given a boost by Kansagra when he pumped in more money and rechristened it SpiceJet in the year 2005. But he was never the public face of the airline. Executive Chairman Siddhanth Sharma runs the show.

The Kansagras have diversified business interests and are on the board of several Indian companies like AGM Chemicals, Royal Holdings (SpiceJet) and Bishopwood Estates as directors.

As a business house they have investments in major international groups spanning across the globe. Of late, Kansagra has shown interest in expanding in oil business and has reportedly made investments in oil fields in Kenya.

The Kansagras have association with international groups involved in business activities like agriculture, horticulture, mineral processing industries, hospitality and property businesses and have a presence in UK, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Sudan, Nigeria and India.

The Kansagras have promoted the Malwood Group, which has business interests in Kenya, Tanzania, Sudan, Nigeria and the UK. In Lagos, the Kansagras are involved in the storage and distribution of fuel with more than 7,000 gas outlets. They also have interests in deep offshore exploration blocks in Nigeria, where they have collaborated with Chevron, Texaco.

Though the India plans in oil and gas sector of the family have not been spelled out as yet, Kansagra is on the board of Cals Refineries, which is looking at setting up a petroleum refinery with a capacity of 100,000 BPSD at Haldia, by relocation of Bayernoil refinery located at Ingolstadt, Germany. Interestingly, the logo of Spice on the Cals Refinery site will definitely lead to a lot of speculation.

Until he gets his valuation right, between $500 and $700, Kansagra has no option but to stick around and wait for the sector to look up and then he can exit on his terms. Till then, he says he has an organic growth plan ready and the airline will expand and try and get fresh equity infusion from anyone who is interested.

First Published: Fri, May 16 2008. 00:00 IST