From the Viewsroom

The return of Naresh Goyal?

Anand Kalyanaraman | Updated on April 11, 2019 Published on April 11, 2019

It would be a farce if he cuts a sweet deal for himself to get back

Jet Airways has been put up for sale by its lenders. The extended deadline to submit expressions of interest ends today. The earlier deadline was April 10, and the extension was apparently to allow a few more interested foreign players to throw their hats in the ring. But, surprise, surprise! Yesterday, an interesting name was added to the list of parties rumoured to be interested in buying a stake in the airline — that of erstwhile promoter Naresh Goyal.

Sure, as it stands, nothing stops Goyal — a shrewd, tenacious fighter — from trying to regain control over the airline he was forced to walk away from a few weeks back. Indeed, Rajneesh Kumar, Chairman, SBI, the lead lender, had said earlier that the doors are open to everyone including Goyal if he could bring in the funds. But while it may be legally permissible, it would be a mockery of the process under way if Goyal manages to cut a sweet deal for himself and wrest his way back into Jet Airways. Given the airline’s perilous state, it is expected that prospective bidders will drive a hard bargain and lenders may have to take big haircuts on their loans.

How fair is it if Goyal, under whose watch the airline has gone almost belly up, regains control of the airline after paying lenders only a portion of their dues?

Had lenders dragged Jet Airways to the courts under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), Goyal would not have been able to participate in the bids unless he repaid the airline’s loans.

The process now is outside the IBC, due to commercial and political considerations. But merely on that premise, should Goyal be allowed a better deal than what he would have got just a few days earlier? And if he can somehow arrange funds now, couldn’t he have arranged them earlier?

That would have saved the airline’s lenders, lessors and employees much pain.

Published on April 11, 2019
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