Troubled carrier Jet Airways seems to be doing everything it can to come up with a plan that will avert its much-speculated collapse. And on Thursday, February 14, the airline approved a bailout plan, which will see its lenders becoming the largest shareholders in the company.
Jet Airways said that its board has approved a rescue plan, through which a consortium of banks — led by the State Bank of India — will convert a part of their debt into equity. As per the plan, the banks will convert the debt at a price of Re 1, mandated by a circular of the Reserve Bank of India. In order to meet a funding gap of about Rs 8,500 crore, the airline said that it would allot 114 million shares to the banks, but did not reveal how much debt would be converted to equity or how fresh amounts would be raised.
The bank-led resolution plan (BLRP) is "to meet a funding gap of nearly Rs 8,500 crore which is to be met by an appropriate mix of equity infusion, debt restructuring, sale/sale and leaseback/ refinancing," Jet Airways said in a statement.
The proposal seems to have brought a new ray to hope to many and an independent consultant told the Economic Times that this would be a good step for the airline. "Jet is saved. The government is really working to ensure the airline survives and 23,000 jobs are protected."
However, this plan will now have to receive the final seal of approval at the shareholders' meet scheduled for February 21. The proposal will also require a nod from the Securities and Exchange Board of India and the Ministry of Civil Aviation.
Meanwhile, experts in the know have said that the debt to equity conversion is one of the few steps that Jet is taking as part of its rescue plans. Later, it is likely that Etihad, which already owns a 24 percent stake in the carrier, will subscribe to new shares issued and increase its stake to about 45 percent, reported ET.
Drop in Naresh Goyal's stake in the airline
With this, founder and promoter Naresh Goyal is set to lose control of Jet Airways as his stake is likely to drop from the current 51 percent to about 25 percent.
Speaking of this drop, Santosh Hiredesai of SBI Caps said in a note thus: "Naresh Goyal's share will come down to 25.5%, Etihad to 12% and lenders will have a majority stake of 50.1%. While this will effectively transfer control of the airline to lenders, the press release is silent on how much of the debt will be converted under the exercise, which remains a key unknown for now, and also who is to bring in potential equity funding that is required to sustain operations and deliver a turnaround."
Earlier, it was said that Goyal was not very keen on giving up his stake and had reportedly even turned to Mukesh Ambani and Ratan Tata for help. the Tata Group has shown an interest in bailing out Jet Airways, but it depended on Goyal and his willingness in giving up his controlling stake.
Jet's fourth quarterly consecutive loss
On February 14, the beleaguered airline also reported its fourth consecutive quarterly loss. The loss was recorded at Rs 588 crore for the quarter ended December 31. The carrier has been reeling under the pressures of high fuel cost and cutthroat competition and is also known to have delayed the salaries of its employees. And on Thursday, chief executive officer Vinay Dube thanked the employees for their work.
"We are indebted to our employees who, despite our interim challenges, have worked tirelessly to ensure the highest levels of operational reliability and customer services for our guests, in line with our core values," he said in a statement.