Etihad deal with Jet to take off soon

New Delhi, Jan. 15: Jet Airways may sign a stake sale deal with Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways by the first week of February.

Sources in the civil aviation ministry said Etihad might buy a 24 per cent stake for about Rs 1,800 crore.

The Abu Dhabi-based airline had initially evinced interest in both Jet Airways and Kingfisher Airlines. However, talks with Kingfisher fell through after the Vijay Mallya-led carrier failed to impress both Etihad and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) with its financial turnaround plan.

According to Jet officials, the completion of the agreement is likely to take some time because of legal and regulatory complexities.

The carriers have appointed global consultants to ensure proper investments, given the high operating costs in India.

"The deal might get inked between the last week of January and the first week of next month. We will share remaining details as and when the events happen," said a senior Jet Airways official who did not wish to be named.

Etihad has in the past two years picked up stakes in several international carriers such as Virgin Australia, Air Berlin, Air Seychelles and Aer Lingus.

SpiceJet fate

Qatar Airways today denied any interest in buying equity shares in budget carrier SpiceJet whose share prices rallied today on rumours that the Gulf-based airline was close to buying a stake in it.

"Qatar Airways categorically denies it is interested in investing in SpiceJet or any other Indian airline," CEO Akbar al-Baker said in a statement.

"This is pure speculation by individuals who deliberately want to spread such unfounded rumours to raise the stock value of their entities," he said.

Earlier, SpiceJet had said that some foreign players had evinced interest in the airline but did not name the probable investors.

"Though a few investors have evinced interest in the company after the government allowed FDI in civil aviation, it will be very pre-mature to comment on the possibilities of any fresh equity issuance to such interested parties or confirm, deny names of any specific entity," SpiceJet said in a filing to the Bombay Stock Exchange.

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