September 4, 2019 / 12:59 PM / 16 days ago

Jet Airways' creditors to recover only $300-$400 million in liquidation scenario

MUMBAI (Reuters) - Creditors of India’s bankrupt Jet Airways (JET.NS) are likely to recover less than 10% of the carrier’s total outstanding dues in a liquidation scenario if no suitor succeeds in buying the airline, two sources told Reuters.

FILE PHOTO: Keren Rodriguez, 6, daughter of a Jet Airways employee, holds a placard as she attends a protest by Jet Airways employees demanding to "save Jet Airways" on the occasion of May Day at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport in Mumbai, India, May 1, 2019. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas/File Photo

The airline’s financial and operational creditors, who are owed nearly 300 billion Indian rupees ($4.20 billion) are likely to recover only $300-$400 million from the sale of Jet’s assets, the sources, who have direct knowledge of the matter, said.

“The expected recovery on owned planes and real estate is $300-400 million after repaying debt tied specifically to those assets,” said one of the sources.

The sources, who asked not to be named as they have not been cleared to discuss the matter with media, said Jet currently has some four to six Boeing (BA.N) and Airbus (AIR.PA) aircraft, and some real estate assets in India, on which there are some outstanding dues.

The airline, less than a year ago, was operating a fleet of more than 120 planes that flew to dozens of domestic destinations and international hubs such as Singapore, London and Dubai.

Once India’s biggest private carrier, Jet stopped flying in April after running out of cash, leaving thousands without jobs and pushing up airfares across the country. It was admitted to bankruptcy court in June after its lenders, led by State Bank of India (SBI.NS), failed to agree on a revival plan.

The court-appointed resolution professional, Grant Thornton, now responsible for the company, declined to comment and said that the focus remains on resolution and not liquidation at this stage.

The Indian bankruptcy process allows lenders to sell the company as a whole or in parts to maximize recovery for creditors. Apart from the lenders the airline has 2,400 creditors including suppliers, vendors and employees.

Grant Thornton in July opened bids for those interested in buying a stake in the airline. The initial deadline of 15 days was extended to accommodate more bidders but the response has been tepid.

Three early-stage bidders include Synergy Group Corp, which owns a majority stake in Colombian carrier Avianca Holdings, Russia’s Treasury RA Partners and Panama-based investment firm Avantulo Group.

Restrictive foreign ownership rules could complicate any sale, industry insiders said.

Two other potential investors have backed out - the head of mining firm Vedanta (VDAN.NS), Anil Agarwal and Etihad Airways, which owns a minority stake in Jet.

“Anyone who wants to purchase Jet will be taking huge liabilities and so it doesn’t make sense for anyone. It is clear that Jet will head into liquidation because what else is there?” said one of the lead bankers.

Apart from the few planes and real estate assets there is little else that Jet’s creditors can sell, and analysts and bankers say that the value of the airline’s brand has weakened.

Reporting by Nupur Anand; Editing by Aditi Shah and Louise Heavens

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