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Debt-laden Jet Airways India Ltd. may be poised to get some help in its bid to stay afloat.
India’s largest lender State Bank of India is set to swap part of its loans into a stake of at least 15 percent in Jet Airways as lenders to the carrier plan similar conversions of some debt into equity to help keep the carrier alive, people with knowledge of the matter said.
Under a new rescue deal in the works for India’s biggest full-service airline, founder Chairman Naresh Goyal’s stake will fall below 20 percent from 51 percent currently, the people said, asking not to be identified as the information isn’t public. Etihad Airways PJSC, the foreign partner with a 24 percent stake, is expected to infuse additional funds to take its holding to more than 40 percent, they said.
An agreement that keeps the beleaguered airline flying would safeguard about 23,000 jobs and save Prime Minister Narendra Modi the embarrassment of a collapse months before general elections. The Mumbai-based carrier, which has struggled with profitability in an increasingly competitive market, has piled on $1.1 billion in debt and fallen behind on paying loans and salaries.
No final decision has been taken, the people said. Spokesmen for SBI and Jet Airways didn’t immediately respond to emails seeking comment.
Jet Airways has called an extraordinary general meeting on Feb. 21 in Mumbai, to seek shareholders approval to increase its authorized share capital by issuing equity and preferred shares.
The carrier is working on “various options on the debt-equity mix, proportion of equity infusion,” the airline said in a statement on Jan. 16. adding the restructuring may lead to a change in the board of the company.
©2019 Bloomberg L.P.