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Anil Agarwal’s family trust shows interest in Jet Airways

Billionaire’s family trust is one of the three entities that responded to the call for expressions of interest (EOI).

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Aug 12, 2019, 06.37 AM IST
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Anil Agarwal (File Pic)
MUMBAI: Billionaire Anil Agarwal’s family trust, Volcan Investments, emerged as a surprise contender for the debt-laden Jet Airways, being one of the three entities that responded to the call for expressions of interest (EOI) for the grounded airline.

“Volcan Investment, an investment company for Anil Agarwal, in an exploratory move, has sought an EoI for Jet Airways, to understand the business scenario for the company and the industry,” the investment trust said in a statement.

“This EOI is in no way linked to Vedanta,” the brief statement clarified.

“Mr Agarwal is always interested in distressed assets. This EoI is just to know more about the industry and the airline. But no final decisions have been made, and the deliberations may not lead to a formal offer for the stake,” said a person involved in the exercise.
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Agarwal is known to take risks and pull off aggressive acquisitions. Cairn India, Hindustan Zinc and Balco are instances when he pulled off acquisitions and turned around the assets, earning shareholders huge dividends in the process. Vedanta shareholders have been miffed in the past with unrelated diversification and risk-taking by the entrepreneur. That perhaps explains why the statement made it clear that Vedanta has nothing to do with this exploratory interest.

Volcan is Agarwal’s family trust. Volcan and Vedanta Resources are the parent companies of Vedanta Ltd, which holds Cairn India Holdings.

Panama-based investment firm Avantulo Group, and Russian fund Treasury RA Creator were the other two entities to submit EOIs for Jet, according to a media report. Etihad Airways, which owns 24% of Jet, did not submit an EoI and neither did the Hinduja group, which had shown preliminary interest through an intended tie-up with Etihad.

“Etihad Airways decided not to pursue Jet Airways. We were part of the consortium and therefore we abided by their move,” group chairman Ashok Hinduja explained to ET on Sunday.

The bidding process is carried out by a resolution professional, Ashish Chhawchharia of Grant Thornton, appointed by India’s bankruptcy court on June 20 after it directed insolvency proceedings against Jet Airways. From the EoIs received, the RP will short-list and seek final bids, which are to be submitted by September 12.

Jet, India’s oldest private airline, stopped operating on April 17 after running out of cash and failing to raise money to stay afloat. It has debt and dues of close to Rs20,000 crore and most of its planes and flight slots have been allocated to other airlines, although on a temporary basis pending a final outcome of the Jet saga.

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