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British entrepreneur takes up offer to buy stake in Jet Airways with lenders

NEW DELHI: In an exchange filing, Jet Airways confirmed that it received an unsolicited communication for stake sale and the sender has bee advised to formally engaged with SBI Caps, which is heading the bidding process for the same

Lenders of Jet Airways are planning to recover debt to the tune of Rs 8,500 crore buy selling stake in the embattled airline.

Jason Unsworth, the British entrepreneur who had expressed interest in acquiring a controlling stake in Jet Airways, has been asked by the airline to take up the matter with its consortium of lenders. In a filing to the stock exchanges, Jet Airways said that Unsworth has been asked to interact with SBI Caps Limited that is leading the resolution plan for the embattled carrier.

Unsworth reportedly wrote to Jet’s lenders, who are presently in control of the carrier, but received no response from them. Following this, Unsworth wrote to Jet Airways CEO Vinay Dube, resubmitting his proposal to buy a controlling stake in the airline, a report by Moneycontrol said. As per the report, Dube put Unsworth in touch with the lenders for formal interaction on

the matter.

“An unsolicited e-mail communication was received by the company, as mentioned in the above mentioned news item and the sender has been advised to formally engage with SBI Caps Limited, who are leading the bidding process under resolution plan initiated by consortium of domestic lenders led by State Bank of India,” Jet Airways said in its stock exchange filing on Wednesday.

Jason Unsworth said he has contacted State Bank of India (SBI) on Wednesday. “I can confirm Jet Airways have given me two further contacts at State Bank of India to get in touch with regarding Atmosphere Airlines’ bid to take a controlling share of the airline,” he said in a series of tweets.

In another tweet, Unsworth said that he interacted with Indian entrepreneur investors for financing his bid for buying stake in Jet Airways. Talks with more parties will take place over the upcoming two weeks, he further added.

The SBI-led consortium of lenders is presently in control of the debt-laden Jet Airways. The banks have initiated a bidding process for selling stake in the airline in order to recover debt to the tune of Rs 8,500 crore. Four entities – Etihad Airways, TPG Capital, Indigo Partners and National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) – have been shortlisted for the bidding process and their details are expected to be cleared by May 10.

However, recent decision by the aviation ministry to hand out grounded aircraft and vacant slots of Jet Airways has reportedly spooked some investors. The debt-laden carrier has lost a substantial portion of its planes, slots and talent since it temporarily suspended operations last week. This has led several investors to question the value of the airline.

Unsworth told Moneycontrol that he plans to pay the Jet staff their salaries and start operations before more slots or talent goes to rivals. Jet’s decision to ground operations has raised uncertainty over the future of its 16,000 employees.

Unsworth has a history of working with several airlines. He presently heads the aviation start-up Atmosphere Intercontinental Airlines which has been trying to start services from London’s Stansted Airport.

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