British entrepreneur Jason Unsworth has submitted an expression of interest to invest in Jet Airways, claiming support of its founder Naresh Goyal. But sources from public sector banks, which were steering the resolution process for the airline, said Unsworth's offer would not be considered at this stage. Goyal too has denied association with Unsworth, terming his claims as mischievous and misleading.
The development comes two days before the deadline for submission of binding offers.
Private equity firms IndiGo Partners, TPG and Jet's strategic partner Etihad were shortlisted at the EoI stage on April 12. While private equity firms have backed out from the race, the frequent visits of Etihad executives to Mumbai have restarted a buzz that the Abu Dhabi-based carrier is still keen on Jet. Sources indicated that Etihad was searching for a joint investment partner. Etihad did not comment.
Unsworth, a former flight steward with Ryan Air, tweeted on Tuesday: “Last night our consortium submitted to SBI the EoI document.” In a second tweet, he listed Lakshay Uttam (My World Venture), Lalit Verma (Future Trend Capital), Dhiiraj (Redcliffe Capital), Naresh Goyal (Jet Air) and Sachin Nalawade (Malhar Hospitality & Events) as the consortium partners. Unsworth, who set up Atmosphere Intercontinental Airlines in 2005 to launch services between India and the UK, has shown repeated interest to take over Jet since its collapse.
Sources said Unsworth had submitted a one-page letter indicating his interest in Jet but without any accompanying documents. They added that the offer cannot be considered at this stage, which is way past the EoI submission date. Lenders would have to take a call on the offer later, depending upon the result of the bid process, they said.
Unsworth’s claims came under scrutiny. “This is to clarify that he (Naresh Goyal) is not part of any consortium and this information is mischievous and misleading,” Namrata Goyal tweeted.
Goyal had earlier teamed up with Future Trend Capital to submit an EoI for investing in Jet. But, he withdrew the offer, citing paucity of time.
Sources however said he was pressured to exit after other bidders threatened to walk out of the process.
On Tuesday, he wrote to employees, expressing hope for a positive outcome of the bid process and revival of the airline.