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Jet Airways racks up long queue of suitors; 3 even come back to propose
Photo Credit: Reuters

Bankrupt Jet Airways (India) Ltd has received expressions of interest from at least eight entities including two financial services firms -- UK’s Kalrock Capital and US-based Imperial Capital -- as well as three comeback suitors, a person in the know told VCCircle.

This comes after VCCircle reported earlier this month that the lenders to the airline had decided to invite fresh bids from potential investors in their fourth attempt to sell the carrier that was grounded more than a year ago.

The deadline to submit expressions of interest ended on Thursday midnight. 

The three comeback suitors are Hyderabad’s Turbo Aviation (which specialises in charter, ground handling and maintenance, repair, overhaul), employees’ consortium of Jet Airways, and South American conglomerate Synergy Group, which owns a majority stake in Colombian carrier Avianca Holdings.

Others include Kolkata-based Alpha Airways, Canadian citizen Siva Rasiah and Sanjay Mandavia, founder and chief executive of Flight Simulation Technique Centre Pvt. Ltd.

Mandavia had told a publication in March that FSTC would launch its own airline FlyBig by the first week of April.

Responding to an email, Kalrock Capital confirmed that it has submitted an expression of interest through its special situations vehicle.

"With the global supply chains looking at India, we believe that the Indian aviation market is poised to grow exponentially once international skies open," said Igor Starha, managing partner at Kalrock Capital.

"Jet is a premium brand and we like to be a part of the solution, which will bring jobs back in an essential sector," he added.

The bankruptcy resolution professional managing the sale process of the airline did not respond till the time of publication of this report.

The State Bank of India (SBI)-led committee of creditors had invited expressions of interest from strategic investors with a minimum net worth of Rs 500 crore or minimum available funds for investment or deployment in Indian companies worth Rs 500 crore.

Financial investors who want to submit interest for Jet must have assets under management worth at least Rs 500 crore, as per the bidding document.

The qualifying criteria for the bidders has been lowered for the fourth round compared to the preceding round wherein the lenders were seeking strategic and financial investors with net worth or investible funds of over Rs 1,000 crore.

Amid the coronavirus outbreak in March, the third round failed to attract any bidder.

Almost 15 entities have eyed Jet over the past 12 months but none followed through with a financial bid.

Since August 2019, three entities had been actively eyeing Jet: Synergy Group; a consortium led by Russian government-backed Far East Development Fund; and Prudent Asset Reconstruction Company Ltd.

Before that others who had shown interest included UK-based Hinduja Group, Panama-based investor Avantulo Group and Russian fund Treasury RA Creator, and Indian billionaire Anil Agarwal’s family trust Volcan Investment.

Jet’s former Abu Dhabi-based joint venture partner Etihad Airways, which owned a 24% stake in the Indian airline, did not show any interest.

Jet was grounded on April 18, 2019 after running out of cash and failing to secure funds from investors and lenders. The carrier was admitted for bankruptcy proceedings on June 20 last year. The airline and its lenders have been searching for new investors ever since.

Jet owes more than Rs 8,000 crore ($1.08 billion) to banks and is facing claims of Rs 24,887 crore ($3.37 billion) from various creditors including banks, suppliers and employees. The bankruptcy tribunal has admitted claims worth Rs 14,000 crore ($1.90 billion).

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