16 April 2019: Some lenders to Jet Airways have demanded more pledged shares of founder Naresh Goyal and planes owned by the airline as collateral for advancing further loans, even as the banks’ consortium remains sharply divided on additional debt assistance to Jet.
The latest condition was communicated to Jet’s management in a meeting on Monday evening. A meeting in the morning was inconclusive.
The delay in releasing funds has left the distressed airline perilously close to total stoppage of operations.
“The interim funding hasn’t been forthcoming thus far,” CEO Vinay Dube said in a communication to Jet’s employees on Monday, while informing them about the scheduled board meeting on Tuesday. The Jet management will inform the board about the current state of finances and operations. It has decided to extend suspension of international operations till Thursday and stick to its current seven-plane operations.
A senior banker said that PNB, ICICI and Yes Bank objected to any release of emergency money, although others such as State Bank of India, Bank of India, Canara Bank and Syndicate Bank did not have a problem. “So there is no funding as of now,” he added. He said that it would be near-impossible for Jet to continue operations without urgent cash.
Jet’s lenders will also select by Tuesday the qualified bidders from the companies that have expressed interest in investing in it. They will be given time till May 10 to submit binding bids, said a banker, as they need three weeks to prepare a bid. The date, according to the latest announcement from SBI Capital Markets was April 30. SBI Caps is overseeing the implementation of the resolution plan and running the bidding process.
Goyal owns 51% of Jet and has already pledged more than 31% to banks.
Owned Planes are Already Collateralised
Goyal has agreed to pledge more, totalling 41.1% of Jet’s shares but hasn’t formally done so yet. He has sought to retain 9.9% shares unencumbered.
It wasn’t clear if the banks want Goyal to pledge his entire shareholding. Goyal’s response to the banks’ latest demand couldn’t be ascertained either.
Jet owns 17 planes, mostly wide bodied Boeing 777s and Airbus A330s, while the rest are leased. It had a fleet of 124 planes as of December 2018. But the owned planes have already been collateralised against funds that were raised to finance their purchase. An airline usually finances 80% of a plane’s purchase via debt. The finance lease or EMIs on some 777s are supposed to be completed this year.
“There is sufficient value in the wide-body aircraft to pledge as collateral,” said Manish Raniga, an independent aviation expert and former vice president at Jet. “This value can be derived as the difference between the market value of the aircraft and outstanding loans and guarantees,” he added.
Jet has defaulted on loan payments, grounded almost all planes, stopped paying its employees and laid off many of them. The airline’s second biggest shareholder Etihad Airways has expressed an interest in investing a second time in it though with a condition that its stake be capped at 24%.
TPG Capital, Indigo Capital and Think Equity-Redcliffe Capital have also put in expressions of interest (EoIs). The state-run National Investment and Infrastructure Fund will bid directly. Founder Naresh Goyal is said to have bid too, being fronted by his general sales agent Jet Air, and two little known entities from Delaware, US and London-based Future Trend Capital and Adi Partners. Their bid arrived minutes after the deadline and lenders are discussing whether to disqualify the bid.
In a statement on Monday evening, Jet’s top banker State Bank of India said the EoIs are currently being vetted by the legal team of SBI Caps. It also said that the debtto-equity swap, if any, “will be transitory to facilitate the bidding cum sale process”.
Jet’s banks were supposed to convert Rs 1 of its debt to more than 50% of shareholding in Jet. That came under doubt after a recent Supreme Court order quashing a Reserve Bank of India circular dated February 12, 2018 on debt restructuring. Jet’s banks are now waiting for regulatory approvals for the planned debt to equity swap.
Employees of Jet have been gathering at its corporate office and airports at Delhi and Mumbai in peaceful marches. They have demanded an update on salaries from the management in vain. A strike planned from Monday was called off on Sunday night in the hope that lenders would release interim loans.