South America-based Synergy Group and Delhi-based Prudent ARC have submitted expressions of interest (EoIs) for the revival of Jet Airways. The deadline for the submission of EoIs ended on Wednesday.
Sources said the Hinduja Group had explored investing in the beleaguered airline, but backed out later because it found no value. A Dubai-based fund, too, had evinced interest in investing in the grounded airline, but did not submit an offer.
This is the second time that the lenders to Jet called for EoIs. The first round of bidding did not result in any resolution plan for the revival of the airline. The lenders gave ample time to prospective suitors by extending the deadline time and again.
Shares of Jet were locked in the 5-per cent upper circuit for a twelveth straight day, at Rs 50.25 on the BSE, on Wednesday. The stock was trading at its highest level since July 18, 2019. With Wednesday’s gain, the stock price of Jet has jumped threefold, up 233 per cent in less than three months, from its record low level of Rs 15.10 hit on October 22, 2019.
Synergy Group, one of the suitors, has said slots at London’s Heathrow airport are critical to the airline’s operations and will decide on participating in the resolution only if it gets clarity. The group has also set other riders to revive the airline. It wants to form a new company with its assets, employees, and operating permit but minus all liabilities. As of now, Synergy Group has not found an Indian partner who will take majority control of the airline. Central government norms cap foreign investment in the airline at 49 per cent.
On its part, the civil aviation ministry has said it will decide on returning domestic slots to Jet on submission of a concrete business plan. Jet’s Chief Strategy Officer Rajesh Prasad said investment in the airline would be attractive under the insolvency framework. “There is significant embedded value in the aircraft and the new owner will also get inventory and spares,” said Prasad.
Jet shut operations on April 17 last year. It was admitted under the insolvency process in June. EoIs have been invited twice and the bid submission deadline extended, but there is no resolution plan from suitors as yet.
What will the prospective new owner get?
Jet’s prospective owner would get the airline’s brand, 49.9 per cent stake in its loyalty business, and up to 12 planes, but uncertainty about the airport slots and absence of a strong Indian investor are obstacles to the carrier’s revival.
Jet had around 20-30 per cent of available slots at Delhi and Mumbai airports and overseas traffic rights, but these have been allocated temporarily to other carriers. In December 2018, the airline had 115 planes, but most of them have been repossessed by lessors.
Currently, the airline has 12 aircraft, including three Boeing 737s, six Boeing 777s, and three Airbus A330s (including one leased to Air Serbia). Of them, the three Boeing 737s are fully owned by the airline. There is a pending loan of around Rs 250 crore on the remaining planes. Banks have security interest over the nine planes, which give them the right to possess them in the event of a default. The remaining debt would have to be cleared before the airline gets full ownership.
Creditor claims on the airline are of Rs 36,090 crore, of which Rs 14,640 crore was admitted as on October 20.
“Any new investor will seek 90-95 per cent haircut on loans. Banks will have to evaluate whether it is practical to recover dues by selling assets or reviving the company,” remarked an aviation industry expert.
“The committee of creditors will see maximisation of the value of assets and push for better value. Against claims of 8,000 crore, the asset value is less. Bankers may also opt for a longer period for payment in case the amount offered is more,” said Ashish Pyasi, associate partner, Dhir and Dhir Associates.