After Etihad Airways decided they want to be a minority shareholder in the beleaguered Jet Airways and promised to invest only Rs 1,700 crore, banks are forced to look at other suitors to save the airline. They have started approaching unsolicited bidders that include a former air passenger service agent, a US-based professor, former head of a Bengaluru software company and member of an influential Indian political family.
These bidders, who submitted their offers after the deadline of May 10, will be assessed by the lenders for viability and seriousness to revive the airline, which shut its operations on April 17, Mint reported.
Jason Unsworth, a former British airline check-in and self-service kiosk agent, is one of the bidders. He later took the entrepreneurial lane and founded Atmosphere Intercontinental, a premium airline that is yet to start operations and which will connect parts of Asia.
Unsworth has faith that he can infuse life into Jet Airways. “I have a network of the best and most experienced aviation consultants in the industry, as well as over 10 years experience working for numerous airlines. (During) the last four years, I have been leading a startup team of airline professionals, (and) our airline is expected to launch later this winter,” the article quoted him as saying.
Another unsolicited bidder is the Mumbai-based Darwin Group. It functions primarily in the information technology, pharmaceuticals, power and shipping space. Representatives from the entity met with SBI Capital Markets, adviser to Jet Airways’ lenders, and offered to invest nearly Rs 14,000 crore. This amount could help relieve the carrier of most of its liabilities.
The lenders, however, will undertake due diligence as not much information, general or financial is available about the group. The latest data from one of Darwin’s group companies, Darwin Platform Holding, states that it earned a profit of Rs 34,751 on sales of Rs 17.08 lakh in FY18.
Ajay Harinath Singh is the group’s Chairman and reportedly belongs to a ‘very influential’ political family from Sultanpur in Uttar Pradesh.
Adi Partners, a London-based investment firm, is the third suitor for Jet Airways. It had earlier submitted an expression of interest (EoI) to the lenders. The company was established by Sanjay Viswanathan in 2012, after he quit as Chief Executive of Bangalore-based IT firm Sonata Software.
“We have long-term investors who are renowned for world-class governance and impact. We would love to back and support Etihad (Airways) in turning around Jet Airways,” Vishwanathan is quoted as saying in the report.
He said his firm has roped in investment bank Rothschild & Co for a potential transaction, adding: “We have a strong platform of world-class, long-term investors who view this as an infrastructure investment.”
The fourth entity in the fray is a consortium of small investors led by a college professor based out of Florida. Sankaran Raghunathan claims to represent minority investors of Jet Airways and said the group aims to raise Rs 21,500 crore.
“A bridge fund of Rs 3,500 crore will be raised on the back of commitments from Etihad Airways and National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) for up to Rs 2,000 crore. We have had talks with representatives of Etihad Airways, who want to retain 24 percent stake in the airline. We are also discussing the case with NIIF, who haven’t got back to us yet. If NIIF partners us, it can invest up to 10 percent, though the maximum investment its corpus allows is about 20 percent,” the report quoted him as saying.