Jet Airways revival: Etihad, Hindujas set for Abu Dhabi meet on May 23

Even as several big businesses were tapped over the last few months for investing in Jet, the talks didn’t progress
A high-level meeting is learnt to have been fixed between the Hinduja Group and Etihad Airways on May 23 in a bid to revive Jet Airways. Top executives of State Bank of India (SBI), which leads the lenders’ consortium, will be present at the meeting to be held in Abu Dhabi, the corporate headquarters for Etihad.

A source in the know said this was possibly the last attempt by the SBI to rescue Jet, which was grounded in April due to dearth of funds. If the Etihad-Hindujas talks fail this week, Jet will be headed to the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT), he pointed out. According to people close to the development, this looks like a tough deal and moving NCLT appears to be the logical next step. 

An email sent to the Hinduja Group late Monday evening did not get a response. An Etihad spokesperson didn’t reply to a query sent by the newspaper on the proposed meeting.

While Etihad put in a conditional letter of interest earlier this month to be a minority investor in Jet, the lenders have been hunting for a majority partner to stitch a deal. Even as several big businesses were tapped over the last few months for investing in Jet, the talks didn’t progress.

As things stand now, the Hinduja group has shown interest but it may like to invest conservatively, another source close to the business said.

The Hindujas want lenders to take a substantial haircut on their dues, he said. Jet owes around Rs 8,600 crore to banks and has failed to pay up to its employees and suppliers.

Apart from Hindujas, a couple of unsolicited bids, keen to invest in Jet, are also being vetted. The unsolicited bids came from London-based AdiGro Group, British entrepreneur Jason Unsworth, and Mumbai-based Darwin Platform, some of them seeking to partner Etihad in a bid to rescue Jet. There have been talks with government-backed wealth fund National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) as well.

Earlier, the consortium of 26 lenders had shortlisted Etihad, NIIF, and private equity players TPG Capital and Indigo Partners as possible bidders for Jet after these companies had put in their expression of interest. Of these, only Etihad put in its bid, that too in the form of a conditional letter of interest, on May 10 — the last day for submission of bids. Other players have in the meantime lost interest in picking up a stake in Jet as the Naresh Goyal-founded airline is left with few aircraft and airport slots.