A consortium of employees of beleaguered Jet Airways faces an uphill task in its attempt for a role in the airline's debt rescue plan that the lenders are trying to implement. The employees including some pilots, senior engineers and others claim that they can mobilize up to Rs 3,000 crore to keep the airline afloat.
The lenders' consortium headed by the State Bank of India (SBI) is awaiting financial bids from the four prospective investors who submitted their expressions of interest (EoI) before the deadline earlier this month. They have time until May 10 to come up with viable binding financial bids individually or in partnership with one or the other bidders. United Arab Emirates (UAE) national carrier Etihad Airways, which is the strategic partner of Jet Airways, is the only airline among the bidders. The Abu Dhabi-based carrier already owns 24 per cent stake in Jet and the rescue plan envisages the airline increasing this stake.
There are two US-based private equity firms, TPG Capital and Indigo Partners, among the bidders trying their luck in one of the world's fastest-growing aviation markets. Of them, Indigo Partners already has major stakes in two airlines in the Americas. The fourth bidder is the state-owned investment promotion entity, the National Investment, and Industry Fund (NIIF), which has little exposure to the aviation industry.
The Jet employees' group has approached the SBI Capital Markets Ltd, which is overseeing the implementation of the debt rescue plan but is yet to get a response. Industry sources, however, think the more viable route for the employees would have been to tie up with one of the bidders had already submitted their EoI before the deadline.
The primary concern of the lenders, who are desperate to recover at least a part of their loans to the ailing airline, will be the financial viability of any proposal. The lenders control 50.1 per cent stake in the airline after the debt-equity swap and are offering up to 75 per cent stake to prospective investors. Airline founder Naresh Goyal's share is now about 21 per cent, which may finally be reduced to 9 per cent, according to some reports. The prospective investors have hit the lenders with suggestions that they accept up to 80 per cent haircut to ensure the financial viability of the resurrected airline.
The Jet Airways share fell further on Tuesday in early trade, plummeting to around Rs 150 after opening the day at Rs 162.70. The share that closed last month at Rs 268, has steadily fallen as the drama has unfolded. It opened the year at Rs 280.