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Reviving Jet Airways: Long list of suitors surprises. But the big question remains

The list includes a few known, and some unknown names, and even an airline

May 29, 2020 / 01:14 PM IST

In Jet Airways' long list of suitors, of nearly a dozen, are a few familiar names, a couple of surprising ones and some unknown. But all are dogged by the same question in this fourth attempt to revive the airline - will anyone reach the finishing line?

The airline's lenders too are in a wait-and-watch mode, before pinning their hopes on the latest suitors.

The airline had suspended operations in April 2019, after running out of money to run operations.

Some of the new names that Moneycontrol could verify till now include - Hyderabad's Turbo Aviation, which specialises in charter, ground handling and MRO services; and entrepreneur Sanjay Mandavia of FSTC, who had planned to start a new airline in India, this year.

And yes, there is an airline!


Alpha Airways, which advisory firm CAPA says is based in Kyrgyzstan. A Google search doesn't throw up any website.

Making a comeback

Three suitors have made a comeback. One is AdiGro Aviation, the London-based group headed by Sanjay Viswanathan. After being in the race for a considerable amount of time, and teaming-up with another suitor - a consortium of Jet Airways employees - AdiGro had bowed out.

Confirming the re-interest, Viswanathan, who is the Chairman of AdiGro, told Moneycontrol: "AdiGro is happy to work collaboratively with Resolution Professional, Committee of Creditors and Ministry of Civil Aviation to revive it, if this happens. It's in this spirit that we submitted our Prelim Resolution Plan."

Interestingly, the consortium of Jet Airways employees has also made a comeback.

The third one is Atmosphere Intercontinental Airlines, led by Jason Unsworth, the British entrepreneur whose offer last year to take control of Jet Airways had evoked surprise. 

South America's Synergy Group, which is probably to have come closest to the finishing line since Jet Airways insolvency process began last year, continues to be in the race.

More new suitors

One of them is KALROCK Capital, a UK-based financial services firm which, among other things, specialises in 'special situations'.

Its Board Member Manoj Narender Madnani confirmed that KALROCK has submitted an EoI for Jet Airways.

"Jet is a premium brand and we would like to be part of the solution, this will bring jobs back in an essential sector," he told Moneycontrol.

Explaining the rationale behind the firm's interest, Madnani added, "Our investment thesis is predicated on our ability to marry efficient and sustainable technologies to the aviation sector and improve efficiencies.

"With the global supply chains looking at India, we believe that the Indian aviation market is poised to grow exponentially once international skies open."

The shortlist

"The long list of suitors is surprising, given the state of the aviation sector because of COVID-19. In the past, many of the suitors hadn't even presented the relevant documents. Let's see if it's different this time," said a senior executive from the industry.

The resolution professional, added sources, will now shortlist the suitors to create a provisional list of EoIs and this will be presented to the banks. Lenders, led by State Bank of India, have an exposure of over Rs 8,000 crore to Jet Airways.

Overall, claims of about Rs 30,000 crore have been made on the airline.

The shortlist will be made within a week, added an executive.

Banks not too hopeful

Bankers to Jet Airways are not too sure of a successful outcome even this time. A top official in State Bank of India said the banks are on a wait and watch mode. It is early to predict in which way the bidding process will progress this time, the official said.

"People are bidding, which means there is some interest. If you see, all airlines are in difficult [circumstances] this time. When bidding, they would have thought about all this. Let's see how it goes this time," said the SBI official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Other lenders include Bank of India, Canara Bank, IDBI, Indian Overseas Bank and Punjab National Bank. Aviation is one of the high stress sectors for banks even before the lockdown.

"There is nothing much left (in Jet Airways) anyway. If somebody can run it, we would be happy," said the official.

Jet is not the first airline where banks, mainly PSU lenders, were left with holding the baby.

Banks have lost (or yet to recover) at least Rs 10,000 crore (including accrued interest amount) to Vijay Mallya-owed Kingfisher Airlines.

Mallya is close to being deported back to the country post a recent court verdict in the UK. But, even if he is brought back to India, there is no assurance that banks will get their money back in the foreseeable future.
Prince Mathews Thomas heads the corporate bureau of Moneycontrol. He has been covering the business world for 16 years, having worked in The Hindu Business Line, Forbes India, Dow Jones Newswires, The Economic Times, Business Standard and The Week. A Chevening scholar, Prince has also authored The Consolidators, a book on second generation entrepreneurs.
Dinesh Unnikrishnan
first published: May 29, 2020 11:55 am
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