INDIA’S cash crunch hit Jet Airways Ltd said late yesterday (22) that its shareholders approved a plan to convert existing debt to equity, paving the way for the troubled company’s lenders to infuse funds and nominate directors to its board.
Jet’s board last week approved a plan by lenders, led by State Bank of India, for an equity infusion, debt restructuring and the sale or sale-and-lease-back of aircraft.
The plan will mean the lenders will have a bigger holding than any other shareholder.
Currently, chairman Naresh Goyal owns a 51 per cent stake in the airline and Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways owns 24 per cent.
Jet, which had net debt of Rs 72.99 billion as of end-December, has debt payments looming next month, according to rating agency ICRA.
It has been unable to pay pilots’ salaries and has outstanding bills to aircraft lessors.
The company, India’s biggest full-service carrier, is struggling with competition from budget rivals, high oil prices and a weaker rupee. The share price took a beating in 2018, losing nearly 70 per cent of its value.
In a regulatory filing, Jet said yesterday that 98 per cent of its shareholders voted to increase the share capital to Rs 22bn from Rs 2bn at a special meeting.
Jet, whose financial woes are set against the backdrop of wider aviation industry problems, has been in the red for four straight quarters.