x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Etihad says approval of deal with India's Jet Airways is near

Etihad Airways expects the Indian authorities to approve its $600 million investment in Jet Airways "imminently", the UAE national carrier said yesterday.

Etihad Airways expects to get the go-ahead from the Indian government for its $600m investment in Jet Airways. Prashanth Vishwanathan / Bloomberg News
Etihad Airways expects to get the go-ahead from the Indian government for its $600m investment in Jet Airways. Prashanth Vishwanathan / Bloomberg News

Etihad Airways expected the Indian authorities to approve its US$600 million investment in Jet Airways "imminently", the carrier said yesterday.

Etihad's chief executive, James Hogan, met with the Jet Airways chairman, Naresh Goyal, in Mumbai at the weekend to discuss the finalisation of the 24 per cent equity investment.

The deal was conditionally approved by India's foreign investment promotion board in July.

"The revised agreements are expected to be endorsed by the competition commission of India and the Indian government imminently," a statement said.

The two companies agreed to extend the deadline for a second time until the end of the month.

"We are working very closely with the Indian government and regulatory authorities to ensure we meet all the requirements of the new foreign direct investment legislation," Mr Hogan said.

Etihad agreed in April to pay US$379m for a 24 per cent stake in Jet.

It also invested a further $150m in Jet's frequent flyer programme and spent $70m to buy Jet's six Heathrow slots through a sale and leaseback agreement.

If the deal goes through, Etihad will become the first foreign carrier to own a stake in an Indian airline after the government in New Delhi last September said it would allow investment of up to 49 per cent in carriers from overseas counterparts.

Mr Hogan previously highlighted India as a growing market and key area for development despite its problems with high levels of regulation and poor airport infrastructure.

India is also the most important source market for tourists visiting Abu Dhabi.

In the first half of the year, Indian travellers were the largest nationality checking into Abu Dhabi's hotels and hotel apartments. Etihad also owns 29.2 per cent of airberlin, 40 per cent of Air Seychelles and also has a 2.9 per cent stake in Ireland's Aer Lingus.

Last month it completed a 49 per cent acquisition of Serbia's national airline, Jat Airways, to be renamed Air Serbia.

 

lgutcher@thenational.ae