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Jet Airways denies UK entrepreneur's claim of bidding for airline

This comes barely a day before SBI is set to announce the name of the winner of Jet Airways on May 10

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DNA Money Correspondent

Updated: May 09, 2019, 05:40 AM IST

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Adding a twist to the grounded Jet Airways airline, a British entrepreneur Jason Unsworth has claimed that a consortium formed between him, the airline's former founder Naresh Goyal and others, has submitted a bid to State Bank of India (SBI). This comes barely a day before SBI is set to announce the name of the winner of Jet Airways on May 10.

However, Goyal's daughter Namrata was quick to clarify that her father is not part of any consortium. In her response on a social media platform, Namrata termed the information to be completely “misleading” and “mischievous”. 

Further, in a regulatory filing on Wednesday, Jet Airways said the bidding process is initiated and managed by SBI Capital Markets under a resolution plan undertaken by a consortium of domestic lenders led by SBI. The company is not involved in the bidding process and has no information with regard to the same and is accordingly not in a position to comment. The airline in an earlier regulatory filing on April 24 had said that unsolicited email communication was received by the company, and the sender has been advised to formally engage with SBI Caps Limited.

Unsworth, founder & CEO at Atmosphere Intercontinental Airlines, started his career as a cabin crew and has been showing interest to invest in Jet Airways.

Jet Airways, which till a few months ago had 119 aircraft under its fleet and was even contemplating investing in the financially ill national carrier Air India, has been eagerly awaiting for an investor to take over. The company has been fire fighting its survival for most past in last one year. The carrier was forced to stop all flight operations on April 17 after its lenders declined to extend more funds to keep the carrier functioning. In the final weeks, before it declared its inability to fly any further until the fund infusion, the airline did not even had money for basic operational expenditure including paying for fuel, aircraft lessors, vendors, and salaried of its 16,000 strong employees.

On March 25, lenders announced their decision to set up of an interim management committee which will manage the daily operations of the crisis-ridden airline till lenders are able to sell/issue shared to a new investor. The lenders also made public of their intentions to infuse Rs 1500 crore as interim funding to bring normalcy into the running of the airline. However, as no interim funding came, the airline was left with no option but to fold up its operations, the company executives said. The airline has a debt in excess of Rs 15,000 crore.

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