15 May 2019: The consortium of lenders, led by State Bank of India (SBI), and Etihad Airways want to rope in the Hinduja Group by offering a stake in grounded Jet Airways. The group has, however, not given any clear commitment in pumping funds into the debt-laden carrier but began showing interest after Etihad approached GP Hinduja, the elder brother, who leads the group.
The senior Hinduja, in turn, put the Abu Dhabi-based carrier in touch with Ashok Hinduja, the younger brother, who heads the India business, the Economic Times reported, citing people aware of the matter.
“The Hinduja Group is non-committal (on Jet), but will keep its options open,” a senior executive told the publication. He went on to add that the group will meet Etihad executives and Jet’s lenders soon, but added that no date has been fixed so far. The person, however, explained that no formal discussion or meeting has taken place yet.
It is worth mentioning here that the billionaire Hinduja brothers have been named as the wealthiest people in the UK for a third time, as per the Sunday Times Rich List 2019. The Indian-born Hinduja brothers witnessed their wealth increase by 1.356 billion pounds (USD 1.7 billion) in the last year to 22 billion pounds, the BBC quoted the list as saying.
The group owns Ashok Leyland, India’s second-largest truck maker by sales. Plus, it runs 10 businesses globally in sectors such as automotive, oil and speciality chemicals, power, IT, healthcare and real estate.
According to the financial daily, the UK-based industrialist brothers have enough funds to buy a stake in debt-laden Jet, which owes over Rs 8,000 crore to nine banks and aircraft leasing firm.
Earlier, the Gulf carrier has said it can only infuse Rs 1,700 crore into the grounded airline, a part of what the beleaguered full-service airline desperately needs for survival. Also, it gave no assurance on Jet’s massive huge dues and has demanded a one-time settlement in a highly conditional bid it submitted on Friday (May 10).
In 2001, the Hinduja Group was the sole bidder apart from a consortium of Tata Sons and Singapore Airlines for Air India, 40 per cent of which was up for sale.
Meanwhile, senior top executives of Jet, including chief executive officer (CEO) Vinay Dube and his deputy, chief financial officer (CFO) Amit Agarwal, resigned on Tuesday citing “personal reasons”.