Chance to fly: Kingfisher's ticketing office in Mumbai
INDIAN billionaire Vijay Mallya said on Wednesday (September 26) he was in talks with foreign carriers to sell a stake in his ailing Kingfisher Airlines after the government relaxed foreign investment rules.
“Yes, we are in talks with some foreign airlines and investors,” Mallya told reporters in Bangalore ahead of Kingfisher’s annual shareholders meeting, while declining to give any names.
“We are going as fast as possible. We can’t go faster,” he added.
India this month allowed foreign airlines to buy stakes of up to 49 per cent in domestic carriers, a long-pending policy reform that could save debt-laden Kingfisher, which is in desperate need of funds.
The flamboyant Mallya, who has not paid staff full salaries since April, has repeatedly said he has had interest from foreign airlines, but some analysts have questioned whether any investors would be prepared to put money into the group.
Debt-laden and loss-making Kingfisher has seen its once successful brand battered by frequent flight cancellations and its market share has shrunk to the smallest of India’s airlines.
Shares in the airline were up 4.5 per cent at Rs15.10 ($0.28/£0.17) in late afternoon trade on the Bombay Stock Exchange.
The group is due to meet on Thursday (September 27) with its lenders, who are currently valuing the airline’s non-core assets, S Viswanathan, a deputy managing director of State Bank of India, has said.
After Kingfisher defaulted on several interest payments, an assets sale is being prepared to recover money from the airline.
All Indian airlines, except privately owned IndiGo, posted losses in the financial year ending on March 31 after struggling with over-expansion, high jet fuel prices and rising airport fees.
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