Lenders revise bidding norms for Jet, drop aviation experience clause

Jet Airways shut down on April 17
The committee of creditors (CoC) is learnt to have finalised the bid criteria for Jet Airways under the insolvency process, dropping the aviation experience clause. The CoC has also approved an interim funding of $10 million (Rs 68 crore) to support the airline. 

Jet Airways shut down on April 17. Last month, lenders referred the airline to the insolvency court after finding no buyers. A fresh attempt is being made to revive the airline and an expression of interest will be issued on Saturday.

Bidders will need to have a net worth or assets under management of Rs 1,000 crore to be able to participate in the bid.

In the earlier bid process initiated in May, a company needed three years of aviation experience to participate, even if it did not meet the financial criteria. Rules for participation through the consortium route, too, are being made flexible now. SBI Capital Markets will support the bid process.

The CoC also cleared interim funding and confirmed the appointment of Ashish Chhawchharia as the resolution professional.

The decisions were approved through a voting process and intimated to stock exchanges on Friday. The $10-million funding would be used to pay for information technology services, data systems, insurance, security, and reimbursements to airline employees assisting in the resolution process.

The resolution professional has received claims of more than Rs 24,000 crore from various creditors and has accepted claims of over Rs 8,400 crore submitted by banks.  Some believe bidders would not be willing to shoulder claims of Rs 24,000 crore, leaving lenders no option but to liquidate the company.

Others are hopeful. “The insolvency process allows for certain exemptions under the Companies Act and the securities law, including open offer waivers. But if the airline has to revive, all the creditors would have to take a haircut,” said a person aware of the development. 

Etihad Airways was sole qualified bidder submitting a conditional offer in May. The airline had also sought waiver from open offer as one of conditions to invest in Jet.  

The Abu Dhabi airline holds a 24 per cent stake in the airline while founder Naresh Goyal is the largest shareholder with 51 per cent stake.  In the earlier bank led bid process, Etihad had submitted a conditional bid for a minority stake. It had asked for a write-off of 80 per cent of the bank debt.  

As part of the process, SBI Caps, the investment banking subsidiary of SBI, had reached out to various Indian conglomerates and NIIF. It had also approached unsolicited bidders like London-based Adi Partners and Darwin Platform Group, which has investments across various sectors including oil and gas, hospitality and realty.