Jet Airways lenders reach out to unsolicited bidders to revive airline
Photo Credit: Reuters

SBI Capital Markets Ltd, the investment bank mandated to look for buyers for Jet Airways (India) Ltd, on Wednesday held talks with unsolicited bidder Darwin Platform Group of Companies to revive the airline.

The discussions were part of efforts by SBI Caps to reach out to unsolicited bidders that had shown interest in reviving Jet after only one of four shortlisted bidders—Etihad Airways—submitted a conditional offer for the grounded airline.

The talks between SBI Caps and Darwin came a day after Jet’s CEO and finance chief resigned, dimming hopes of reviving the carrier.

Mumbai-based Darwin Platform Group has offered Rs 14,000 crore to acquire Jet Airways, said CEO Rahul Ganpule. “It would be entirely cash but we would discuss the details on the funding. We are a debt-free company and also have our cash flows, so will work out the payments accordingly.”

According to the little-known group’s website, it has 18 companies across various sectors including aviation, oil and gas, hospitality and real estate.

Ganpule said the group can streamline Jet in the next one to two years as aviation is a good business to be in globally.

The group had submitted an expression of interest (EoI) and a financial bid for Jet on May 8. “They (SBI Caps) had called us. We wanted to understand the liability and assets of Jet Airways and where we stand. We will be officially communicating with each other in the next two days,” Ganpule said.

He also said that the group had done its due diligence before submitting the financial bids but wanted some more details which were not publicly available.

Apart from Darwin, UK-based entrepreneur Jason Unsworth, London-based investment firm Adi Group and Jet Airways employees union had also submitted unsolicited bids, according to various media reports.

However, the consortium of lenders to Jet hadn’t shortlisted any of these offers. The consortium had only shortlisted private equity firms IndiGo Partners and TPG, Etihad Airways and the sovereign fund NIIF on April 12 after the first round of EOIs.

TPG, IndiGo and NIIF did not submit any bid while Etihad made only a conditional offer. The Abu Dhabi-based airline said it would infuse money into Jet Airways to the extent that its stake is maintained at the current level, once a majority buyer comes in.

Meanwhile, Jet’s lenders and Etihad have approached Hinduja Group offering a stake in the grounded airline, The Economic Times reported. The UK-based conglomerate has begun showing interest after Etihad representatives approached GP Hinduja, who heads the group, the report said.

The lenders are offering a stake of up to 75% stake in Jet, which has been grounded since April 17. Jet, once the biggest private-sector carrier in the country, owes more than Rs 9,000 crore to its financial creditors.

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