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UK firm offers bid for grounded Jet Airways, keen to partner Etihad

Sources involved in the bidding process confirmed that the entity had submitted a bid but expressed doubt over its acceptance

Arindam Majumder  |  New Delhi 

UK firm offers bid for grounded Jet Airways, keen to partner Etihad

London-based investment firm on Wednesday formally placed its bid for the cash-starved Jet Airways, a day before the bid deadline ends.

The company, which is led by Sanjay Viswanathan, former chief executive officer of Bangalore-based mid-cap information technology (IT) firm Sonata Software, said it was willing to tie up with Abu-Dhabi-based Etihad Airways for the bid. “Etihad makes a great partner because we need a strong airline to turn around Jet. I think Etihad will also be interested because they also need a growing market like India,” Vishwanathan said over telephone.

According to Vishwanathan, the firm has bid for 24 per cent stake in Jet as it wants to avoid an open offer. “Primarily, we will be bidding for 24 per cent stake because we don’t want to trigger an open offer as it will cause a big-value leakage. The 24 per cent stake will be good enough to run the company if we get a right partner,” he said.

Sources involved in the bidding process confirmed that the entity had submitted a bid but expressed doubt over its acceptance. “Yes, a bid from the entity has reached us but the firm was not shortlisted during the expression of interest (EoI) process. But considering that there is no other formal bid tomorrow, lenders may take a legal view to see if the bid can be considered,” the person said.

According to him, there is a possibility that a fresh bid will be called. “If there is no formal bid by tomorrow, it is possible that the lenders will call a fresh bid with new terms and conditions,” he added. Earlier, it was reported that had submitted an EoI, along with promoter Naresh Goyal and a Delaware-based entity Future Capital. However, the consortium pulled out of the process as lenders were not comfortable with Goyal bidding for the airline. Goyal, then chairman, was ousted from the board by the SBI-led lenders consortium as part of the resolution process.

However, Vishwanathan said his entity had submitted the EoI as an individual entity and there was some misunderstanding which saw Adi Partner’s proposal being ruled out. “Unfortunately, there were some miscommunications that we were aligned with Goyal. That queered the pitch for us, with the lenders and we were disqualified. We reached out to SBI Caps and clarified our position. It speaks volume of our expertise that despite not being in the EoI process we were able to submit a binding bid. I am very confident that it will be accepted as ours’ would be the well thought out and most attractive bid,” he said.

After getting shortlisted the four bidders — Etihad Airways, TPG Capital, Indigo Partners and NIIF — developed cold feet citing that they see no value in the company as Jet’s slots and aircraft have been given away to other carriers.

But Vishwanathan said he was not perturbed by this, instead it gives a fresh chance to restructure the airline’s network. “Jet needs a revamp of their operations and network. What we now have is an opportunity to rebuild the network with a clean balance sheet,” he said.

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First Published: Thu, May 09 2019. 22:36 IST