(Adds Qatar Airways comments in paragraph 6-7)
NEW DELHI Jan 15 Shares in India's SpiceJet Ltd
rose by as much as 8.5 percent on Tuesday after the
Times of India reported the budget carrier was close to selling
a stake to a foreign carrier, which it said was most likely to
be Qatar Airways.
SpiceJet said in a later statement that it was premature to
comment on the possibility of selling shares to any investor,
but said some interest hd been shown after a recent rule change
allowing foreign carriers buy stakes in local airlines.
"(A) few investors have evinced interest in the company post
government of India allowing FDI (foreign direct investment) in
the civil aviation sector to foreign airlines," SpiceJet said in
a statement to the Bombay Stock Exchange.
"It will be very premature to comment on the possibilities
of any fresh equity issuance to such interested parties or
confirm/deny names of any specific entity," the company added.
SpiceJet shares were trading up 4.5 percent at 46.05 rupees
at 0832 GMT. They surged 161 percent last year on expectations
that the airline would eventually sell a stake to a foreign
Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar al-Baker said on Sunday
he was not talking to any Indian carrier about buying a stake.
"India is a huge and potentially very lucrative market, but
I believe there are still issues to be resolved before it will
really be opened up," he told reporters in Doha.
In September India allowed foreign airlines to buy a maximum
49 percent stake in local carriers, opening the prospect of its
battered airlines getting fresh funding.
Jet Airways, India's second-largest carrier, is in
talks with Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways to sell a stake, it said
earlier this month, in what could be the first deal in the
sector following the rule change.
(Reporting by Rafael Nam and Anurag Kotoky; additional
reporting by Regan Doherty in Doha; Editing by Chris Gallagher
and Greg Mahlich)