Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Jet Airways revival: Asking banks to write off Rs 8,500-cr outstanding is unfairness at its worst

Be it Etihad Airways or the Hindujas or both teaming up and suitors before them, their common, almost reflex refrain, has been State Bank of India (SBI) and its consortium should take the densest haircut possible — nearly 100 percent write-off of the whopping Rs 8,500 crore and growing dues to them by Jet Airways. Would they have taken such liberties with bonds subscribed by the US and European investors? It is only on winding up that banks can be expected to philosophically resign to losing their shirt. But when a company is a going concern still, with only promoters changing, it is the cruelest cut to creditors to expect them to indulge in self-abnegation.
There is no reason why the SBI-led lenders' consortium should not prevail upon the new promoters to carry the outstanding as a liability in Jet Airways’ balance sheet with a moratorium period of, say 10 years. This itself is a big concession and sacrifice. The interest clock should keep on ticking, preferably accompanied by payment as and when it becomes due, say annually. It would be a travesty if SBI and its lenders were expected to bankroll Jet Airways’ fresh working capital requirements on the resumption of its flights so soon after they have been tonsured (haircut) by it.
29/05/19 S Murlidharan/First Post
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