Friday, December 07, 2018

Jet’s Goyal ‘taps’ NRI tycoon for investment

Kochi: Jet Airways promoter Naresh Goyal is learned to have approached Abu Dhabi-based NRI billionaire MA Yusuffali for investing in his struggling-to-survive airline. Goyal is also in talks with Abu Dhabi’s Etihad to get the latter to raise its stake in Jet from 24% to anywhere up to 49%.

Jet’s founder needs a partner to meet the norms that a domestic carrier’s substantial ownership and effective control (SOEC) must remain with Indian entities. Yussuffali, the richest Indian billionaire in the Arab world, also known for his proximity to the Abu Dhabi royals, may board Jet Airways only in tandem with Etihad.

“This would be a deal between Etihad and Yusuffali to take charge of the Indian carrier. It must be seen in the context of Etihad’s deal with Goyal,” said a person familiar with the matter.

Etihad has had frosty ties with Goyal after investing $380 million in Jet Airways five years ago.

Etihad doesn’t want the airline to be grounded especially after India’s largest conglomerate Tata, which had evinced interest in a takeover, slowed down negotiations.
On its part, Jet said it “does not comment on speculation”. Yusuffali said: “I have no interest in buying an airline. My focus will be on my core areas of retailing and hospitality, where I will continue to invest.”
However, a person privy to this development said: “Goyal had called up Yusuffali 10 days ago and discussed his buying a strategic share in the airline. They had a detailed conversation. But Yusuffali is apprehensive about investing in an industry that loses so much money.”
07/12/18 Shenoy Karun/Times of India