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Kingfisher stock takes off over white knight buzz

BS Reporters  |  Mumbai 

The airline may be struggling to stay afloat, but the Kingfisher stocks have taken off — amid a growing buzz that Vijay Mallya is close to getting a white knight.

In the last four trading sessions, shares of the airline have jumped 23.5 per cent. Today, the airline stock closed at Rs 18.64, or 7.49 per cent higher than its previous close. The gains come at a time when benchmark indices have lost 1.35 per cent of their values during the same period. Earlier in the month, the airline’s stock hit an all-time low of Rs 14.95, plunging 70 per cent year-on-year. But, since then, the stock had been climbing up over speculation of a stake purchase.

The names of the latest white knight doing the rounds include Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani. The buzz has grown louder after Mallya was seen walking up to Ambani during an IPL match. For the last 48 hours, group SMSes and street talk have intensified that what started at the cricket stadium will end in the boardroom.

Market rumours seem to go hand-in-hand with Mallya. It started with Chinese investors, then veered towards PE buyout funds such as Blackstone and Cerebrus (known for turning around distressed assets). Matters intensified last week when market grapevine hinted at Tata Group and Singapore Airlines reviving their “old association” to buyout the cash-strapped airline.

This was enough to set a spark among investors and even Google groups like “Stock Talk” were on fire. Interestingly, even then people talked of a deal at around Rs 24 share — a premium to the then prevailing market price.

All the three groups — RIL, Tatas and Singapore Airlines — have denied any such possibility. “We are not in discussion to purchase a stake in Kingfisher Airlines,” a Singapore Airlines spokesperson told media last week. A Tata group spokesperson, too, denied investing in the airline. RIL has in the past denied any investment.

First Published: Wed, April 11 2012. 00:39 IST