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Jet Airways okays to Etihad’s bailout terms

Jet Airways okays to Etihad’s bailout terms
NEW DELHI, Feb 1 (Agencies) | Publish Date: 2/1/2019 12:34:57 PM IST

Jet Airways Ltd has agreed to most conditions set by shareholder Etihad Airways for offering a lifeline to the debt-laden Indian carrier, the Business Standard newspaper said, sending Jet’s shares soaring as much as 18 percent on Friday.

Both airlines are set to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) within days, which would result in Jet Airways’ founder and chairman Naresh Goyal reducing his stake to 22 percent from 51 percent and stepping down from the board, the report said, citing sources.

Etihad’s stake would go up to 40 percent from 24 percent and the lenders would convert some of their debt to equity, giving them about 30 percent ownership of the cash-strapped carrier, the newspaper reported.

Jet Airways said in a statement to the stock exchange that, as previously stated, the airline is working on a comprehensive resolution plan with lenders, lead by State Bank of India (SBI), and other stakeholders.

Etihad declined to comment.

Saddled with debt of about $1.14 billion, Jet Airways has been hit by fierce competition, rupee depreciation and high oil prices. The airline, which controls a sixth of India’s booming aviation market, owes money to banks, vendors and lessors - some of whom are considering taking back aircraft, sources have told Reuters.

Jet said on Monday it would seek shareholder approval next month to convert existing debt into equity and allow its lenders to nominate directors to its board, in an effort to resolve its financial issues.

SBI chairman Rajnish Kumar told reporters on Friday that efforts are on to resolve Jet’s situation but declined to comment on how much stake the bank would end up taking if the debt for equity swap is approved.

Jet Airways is also behind on salary payments to pilots. The airline had agreed to pay the outstanding 25 percent of salary for October and 75 percent of November in January, while the remaining would be cleared in tranches by April.

While it has cleared dues for October, Jet has only paid 50 percent of the salary for November, two sources told Reuters, adding that the pilot’s union is expected to meet with the management next week to discuss the issue.

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