Tuesday, November 03, 2020

Bankrupt Jet Airways is world's best-performing airline stock

New Delhi: All airlines are feeling the coronavirus pinch but one that hasn’t flown since April 2019 after collapsing under a pile of debt is the world’s best performing -- at least from a share price point of view.

Stock in Mumbai-listed Jet Airways India Ltd has surged almost 150% this year versus a 42% plunge in the 27-member Bloomberg World Airlines Index, which comprises the globe’s biggest carriers.

Its runaway gains have market watchers scratching their heads, especially since Jet Airways is undergoing bankruptcy proceedings, has almost 17,000 creditors seeking claims of around $3.4 billion and has had most of its landing slots confiscated. It doesn’t have any employees to speak of, either.

A panel of creditors did approve a resolution plan last month, bringing the recovery of any dues one step closer, but that doesn’t guarantee a resumption of flights.

Retail investors are the last ones to get anything out of a bankruptcy, yet some are buying in the hope Jet Airways will successfully emerge from a restructuring, said Ajay Srivastava, managing director of advisory firm Dimensions Corporate Finance Services. The airline isn’t being thought of as a going concern, but a shell containing assets that may be sold, he said.

In its heyday, Jet Airways was India’s No. 1 private carrier, taking on the monopoly of state-run Air India Ltd and offering inter-continental voyages with free gourmet meals and in-flight entertainment. But a slew of budget carriers that offered no frills, ultra-cheap tickets ate into its market share and Jet Airways started to drown in debt.

The resolution plan for Jet Airways was submitted by two individuals, Murari Lal Jalan and Florian Fritsch, exchange filings show. Jalan is a businessman with investments in India, Russia and Uzbekistan. Fritsch is the chairman of Kalrock Capital Management Ltd, a London-based financial advisory and alternative asset manager. The filings don’t state how the men plan to restructure the airline.

Ashish Chhawchharia, the court-appointed professional running Jet Airways’ insolvency, didn’t respond to a request for further information. Jalan, who is based in Dubai according to media reports, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. Manoj Madnani, described as a board member of the Jalan Kalrock consortium, asked last week that questions be sent over email and hasn’t immediately replied.

03/11/20 Bloomberg/Times of India

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