Jet to raise $300m ECB, use Etihad proceeds to retire debt

The airline also said it plans to raise USD 300 million in external commercial borrowings (ECB) to retire high-cost debt.

Updated: Aug 08, 2013, 23:18 PM IST

Mumbai: Jet Airways, which today posted a loss for the second consecutive quarter, said the USD 749-million cash flow from the proposed deal with Etihad Airways will help it repair its balance sheet.

The airline also said it plans to raise USD 300 million in external commercial borrowings (ECB) to retire high-cost debt.

The company reported a net loss of Rs 355.38 crore for the first quarter ended June 30 compared with a profit of Rs 24.7 crore a year earlier. Total income from operations declined to Rs 4,005.15 crore from Rs 4,587.27 crore, Jet Airways said in a filing to the BSE today.

Last month, the Foreign Investment Promotion Board approved a Rs 2,058-crore deal under which Abu Dhabi-based Etihad proposes to buy a 24 per cent stake in Naresh Goyal-led Jet Airways. The proposal needs to be cleared by capital markets regulator Sebi and fair trade watchdog CCI.

"We will use the USD 749-million proceeds from the deal with Etihad Airways, which is awaiting regulatory approvals, to retire USD 2.04 billion debt of the airline and improve the overall balance sheet," Jet Airways Chairman Naresh Goyal told shareholders at the airline's 21st AGM here.

Jet Airways group chief financial officer Ravishankar Gopalakrishnan said the company is "planning to raise USD 300 million in ECBs to retire the debt. Out of this, the airline is already in talks with banks to raise USD 150 million, while the rest will come from Etihad, once the stake sale deal is inked."

"Out of the total debt, around USD 300 million is high cost, which we want to retire with this ECB facility. That apart we also need to raise another USD 300 million in working capital this fiscal," the CFO said, without offering a timeline.

As part of the deal, the Abu Dhabi flag carrier has agreed to lend USD 150 million to Jet at 3 per cent interest.

Goyal said three of the five planes leased to Thai Airways have been returned and leased out again to Turkish Airlines. The remaining two will be returned over the next three-five months and will be retained by Jet.

Goyal said that as soon as the deal with Etihad is signed, the airline will start focusing on reducing cost in terms of lease, fuel and maintenance.

But when shareholders asked whether Jet is planning to directly import aviation fuel, Goyal said no, citing lack of infrastructure.

Overall, Gopalakrishnan said, the airline has been able to double y-o-y the revenue from the ancillary front, which jumped to USD 150 million in FY13 from USD 75 million year ago.

"Our objective is to net at least 10-12 per cent of overall revenue from ancillary services in the next 12-24 months," Gopalakrishnan added.

On the staff strength he said it has come down to 12,978 as of June-end from 13,394 as of March-end and the number of expat pilots stood at 150.

The Jet-Etihad deal has got a conditional approval from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) but needs approvals from the Cabinet as well as the market watchdog Sebi.