India

A group of Indian state-run banks want Jet Airways’ embattled founder and Chairman Naresh Goyal to reduce his stake in the carrier to 10 percent, news channel CNBC-TV18 reported on Thursday, quoting sources, Reuters reported. “Banks want Goyal to bring his stake down to 10 percent, below the 17 percent envisaged in the bank-led provisional resolution plan (BLPRP),” sources told CNBC-TV18. The state-run banks are also pushing Goyal to step down, CNBC-TV18 added.

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When India’s shadow lenders sneeze, lots of others catch a cold. Debt concerns have pushed funding costs for non-bank financing companies to multi-year highs in recent weeks, Bloomberg News reported. That’s bad news for all the borrowers who rely on the lenders in the world’s fastest-growing major economy -- from poor entrepreneurs getting micro loans for food delivery businesses to property tycoons looking to roll over debt that fueled a construction boom. Read more on that here.

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State Bank of India’s (SBI) chairman said on Wednesday that putting Jet Airways into bankruptcy is the “last option” and that its lenders are making every effort to keep the airline flying, Gulf News reported. “We believe that it is in everybody’s interest that Jet Airways continues to fly,” SBI chairman Rajnish Kumar told reporters after a meeting with government officials, adding that placing Jet into bankruptcy would mean grounding the airline.

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In a related story, the International New York Times reported on a Reuters story that India's government has asked state-run banks to rescue privately held Jet Airways without pushing it into bankruptcy, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeks to avert thousands of job losses weeks before a general election, two people within the administration told Reuters. The finance ministry has in the past year sought regular updates from the banks, led by State Bank of India (SBI), on Jet's financial health, the people said.

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Jet Airways India Ltd., once India’s second-biggest airline, is flying just about a third of its fleet because its inability to pay lessors is grounding aircraft, Bloomberg News reported. The number may drop further, the nation’s airline regulator said. The company has 41 planes available, according to a statement released by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation after it reviewed Jet Air’s performance in New Delhi Tuesday. The beleaguered airline, which has a fleet of 119 as per its website, has been forced to ground planes as it awaits restructuring of its debt.

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Asia’s richest man Mukesh Ambani has helped his younger brother avert a stint in jail, stepping in to make an $80 million payment for his sibling whose telecom-to-infrastructure empire is struggling with debt, Bloomberg News reported. The embattled former billionaire, Anil Ambani, thanked his brother Mukesh and sister-in-law after Anil’s Reliance Communications Ltd. completed the required 5.5 billion rupee ($80 million) payment to a local unit of Ericsson AB for past maintenance services provided to his group.

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Jet Airways Ltd said here on Monday it has grounded four more planes and would delay paying interest on maturing debt in a fresh sign of deepening liquidity crisis engulfing the Indian carrier saddled with over $1 billion debt, Reuters reported. India's second-largest carrier has delayed payments to its pilots, suppliers and lessors for months and defaulted on loans, as it battles intensifying competition, a weak rupee and rising fuel costs. The airline said it will delay paying interest to its debenture holder, due March 19, owing to financial constraints.

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Some lessors of India’s Jet Airways have begun terminating lease deals over unpaid dues and are preparing to move the leased planes abroad, escalating a crisis for the carrier, five sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters. Two lessors have applied to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), India’s aviation regulator, to deregister at least five planes leased to cash-strapped Jet, three of the sources said, Reuters reported. Termination of lease agreements normally precedes applications made to the DGCA.

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Shashikant Rathi, who has dominated India’s local bond underwriting business for over a decade at Axis Bank, says the industry now faces its biggest challenge since the global financial crisis, Bloomberg News reported. Shock defaults since last year by shadow bank IL&FS group and a new electronic bidding platform have disrupted the $108 billion market where underwriters like Rathi help companies raise money by selling debt securities. Sales of rupee corporate bonds that tend to pay the highest fees have fallen this quarter to a 2016 low.

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Standard Chartered Plc may wind up losing less on its biggest bad loan in India. Lenders to bankrupt Essar Steel India Ltd. will consider increasing a payout to Standard Chartered to expedite the sale of the troubled Indian mill to ArcelorMittal, according to people with knowledge of the matter, Bloomberg News reported. That could smooth over a sticking point in months of court battles as the world’s largest steelmaker tries to open shop in the South Asian nation. Standard Chartered has been seeking repayment on about 35.6 billion rupees ($513 million) of loans to Essar Steel.

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