This article first appeared on Business Standard on 12 March, 2016. Ajay Singh paid Rs 2 to Kalanithi Maran to acquire the latter's controlling stake in SpiceJet. This was disclosed by Maran in his Delhi High court petition against SpiceJet and its current promoter Singh over a share transfer dispute.
Singh took control of the airline last January acquiring 58.46 per cent shares of the airline from Maran and his associate company Kal Airways. The acquisition price was not revealed to the stock exchange.
At the time of the transaction the SpiceJet stock was priced at Rs 16.30 a share. It closed at Rs 61.75 on Friday.
It was speculated Singh acquired control of the airline at a throwaway price because it was in was on verge of closure after defaulting on dues to lessors, airports and oil companies. Singh, who is also its founder-promoter, has steered SpiceJet back into profit, improved its market share and delivered 90 per cent plus loads.
But a dispute between the former and current owners of the airline has come to the fore and is being heard in the Delhi High Court.
In his petition Maran has claimed SpiceJet and Singh violated the share purchase agreement over issue of cumulative redeemable preference shares and failed to pay statutory income tax and service tax dues.
Maran claims he had deposited Rs 680 crore with the airline towards issue of share warrants and payment of dues but had to face summons from the income tax department as the company failed to take necessary action.
On Friday the Delhi High Court today asked Spicejet to pass a board resolution for issuing share warrants to Maran and Kal Airways according to the sale agreement of 2015 which led to change in ownership of the carrier. Justice Manmohan Singh asked both sides to come with the draft terms they are agreeable to and then he would pass orders on the petition moved by Maran seeking a stay on transfer of any shares of the airline.
The matter has been listed for orders on March 14.
According to a PTI report SpiceJet has refuted allegations and claimed that the warrants can be issued only after approval is received from Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE). It also said there was no fear of transferring shares to a third party or to Maran as the shares have not yet been issued by the company.
A SpiceJet spokesperson did not immediately respond to an email query sent by this paper. However in a media statement released on Friday it said “a proceeding has been filed by Kalanithi Maran and Kal Airways before the Delhi High Court seeking various interim reliefs. No relief has been granted by the court and the matter is posted for further hearing.”