Jet Airways founder Naresh Goyal steps down amid crisis

Jet Airways founder Naresh Goyal his wife Anita Goyal step down from board of directors

Naresh Goyal. | Danish Siddiqui Reuters

SpiceJet chief Ajay Singh on Monday said it was a "sad day" for Indian aviation as Naresh Goyal and his wife Anita Goyal stepping down from the board of Jet Airways.

At present, Jet Airways is operating with just 41 planes out of its fleet of 119 planes after failing to repay rentals.

Former SBI managing director and ex-Jet Airways director Srinivasan Vishvanathan might be invited to join the top leadership of the company, the report added.

Jet's debt exceeds $1bn (£750m) and the airline has grounded some flights as it is struggling to pay employees, suppliers and leasing companies. "No body is barred from bidding or taking over the airline as per the rule", he said.

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Last week, Reuters reported, citing two people in the know, that the central government had asked state-run banks to rescue the airline without pushing it into bankruptcy as Prime Minister Narendra Modi sought to avert thousands of job losses weeks before a general election.

The lenders will nominate two directors to the Jet board and will shortly initiate an auction process to find a new strategic investor for the company.

Naresh Goyal's resignation will likely pave the way for potential investors to save India's oldest private carrier. According to Reserve Bank of India (RBI) regulations, lenders must resolve cases pertaining to defaulting companies such as Jet Airways within 180 days of their first default.

As a result, the stake of promoter Goyal will come down to 25 percent from 50 percent, while Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways, which had a 24 percent stake in the carrier, came down to 12 percent.

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Lenders to undertake a bidding process for its shares.

Goyal's wife, Anita, with whom he set up the full-service carrier at a time when state-run Air India was the only real formidable opponent, will also step down from the board. "We urgently need to address structural challenges that make India's airlines uncompetitive to airlines around the world", Singh said.

The board also approved issue of 11.4 crore equity shares of the company to the consortium of lenders upon conversion of Rs 1 of the outstanding debt.

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