Hopes of Jet Airways stakeholders to see the airline back on the skies have suffered yet another setback with a lender's move to auction off the airline's premium office property in Mumbai's prestigious Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) to recover defaulted loan instalments of Rs 415 crore. The debt-riddled airline is already battling a host of financial, legal and regulatory hurdles in its attempt to resume operations. HDFC Bank is planning to sell the airline's 52,775 sq ft office at an auction with a base price of Rs 245 crore.
HDFC Bank said in a notice that the borrower (Jet Airways) has failed to repay amounts due to the bank, making it entitled to "enforce its mortgage over the immovable property", a report in India Today says. Jet Airways had bought the land through an auction in 2008 for Rs 826 crore, a Livemint report said. The property is expected to attract heavy bidding because of its prime location.
India's first private airline, for which the banks led by the State Bank of India (SBI) has formed a rescue plan, has a total debt burden of about Rs 10,500 crore. It also owes upwards of Rs 2,500 crore in staff salary arrears and payments to vendors and service providers. Some service providers have threatened to haul the carrier through the bankruptcy proceedings.
Industry observers are still unsure whether the airline could fly again, but its stakeholders hope there will be at least one serious bid before the deadline elapses on Friday. The SBI Capital Markets Limited, which manages the bids, has shortlisted four potential investors who have submitted their expressions of interest (EoI). Apart from the private carrier's strategic partner the United Arab Emirates (UAE)-based Etihad Airways, two private equity firms, TPG Capital and Indigo Partners submitted their EoIs in time. State-owned National Investment and Industrial Fund (NIIF) has also been shortlisted. Abu Dhabi-based Etihad holds a 14 per cent stake in the airline.
Meanwhile, the offer of airline founder Naresh Goyal to infuse another Rs 250 crore to help the grounded airline to resume operations has raised interest in some quarters. Goyal has a 24 per cent stake in the airline after the debt restructuring. In the absence of any other bids, the belated EoI from little known British entrepreneur Jason Unsworth also assumes significance.
Unsworth, a former flight steward with Ryan Air, had tweeted: "Last night our consortium submitted to SBI the EoI document." In a second tweet, he named Lakshay Uttam (My World Venture), Lalit Verma (Future Trend Capital), Dhiraj (Redcliffe Capital), Naresh Goyal (Jet Air) and Sachin Nalawade (Malhar Hospitality & Events) as the consortium partners. Unsworth set up Atmosphere Intercontinental Airlines in 2005 and has shown repeated interest to take over Jet since its collapse.
Meanwhile, Mint reported that the registrar of companies (RoC) has submitted a report to the Corporate Affairs Ministry after examining the airline's books. The RoC began examining the airline's books after it deferred its first-quarter report for the last financial year (2018-19). The Enforcement Directorate (ED) is sniffing around Jet Airways accounts to ascertain whether any norms were violated in Etihad investment in Jet Privilege Pvt Ltd (JPPL), the company that runs the airline's frequent flier programme, a report in Business Standard says. The deal with the Abu Dhabi-based carrier was concluded in 2014, an ED source said. Etihad owns a 50.1 per cent stake in JPPL, while Jet Airways holds 49.9 per cent.