London-based Adi Partners and some groups representing Jet Airways’ employees said that they were entering into a partnership to bid for acquiring a 75% stake in the airline when the NCLT invites expression of interest (EoI) for the debt-laden airline. Last week, the SBI-led consortium of lenders decided to start bankruptcy proceedings against Jet Airways and referred the matter to the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) after failing to find investors during a bidding process. Representatives of the airline’s employees as well as Adi Partners had submitted separate bids to the lenders.
“We will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the employees to revive the airline. Adi Partners will own 49% and employees will have 26% share in the partnership,” said Sanjay Vishwanathan, chairman and managing partner, Adi Partners. The employee groups and Adi Partners said they had informed the Resolution Professional (RP) appointed by NCLT about their tie-up.
He added there was a possibility of a tie up with either Indian banks or foreign institutional lenders’ groups for the remaining 25% stake in the company. Jet Airways owes almost £840 million to domestic banks and £400 million to foreign lenders. Vishwanathan said that he estimated that an initial investment of £250 to 500 million” would be required to revive the airline. Total liabilities were pegged at almost £2.5 billion, including dues of £800 to 1.2 billion towards vendors and almost £60 million for salaries to employees that had been pending for the last six months.
No clear answers were available though on how the employees, who had not been paid salaries since January, could bring in £62.5to 100 million to invest in the airline. Both Adi Partners and the employee groups said that a request had been made to the NCLT to release some money towards salaries owed to the staff so that they don’t leave the company and hamper bankruptcy proceedings. This money could be partially routed into the airline.
There were also questions about whether the move had the support of all the employees with the pilots’ union, the National Aviator’s Guild, distancing itself from the announcement. The employee groups present included Society for Welfare of Indian Pilots, Jet Aircraft Maintenance Engineer Welfare Association, Jet Airways Cabin Crew Association, Save Jet Airways and All Indian Jet Airways Technician Association. It is estimated that there are nearly 10,000 employees left in the company.