UAE’s Etihad hires turnaround expert Alvarez & Marsal as it weighs Jet Airways bailout

Jet Airways, which controls a sixth of India’s booming aviation market, desperately needs a bailout. (File photo: Reuters)
Updated 27 January 2019
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UAE’s Etihad hires turnaround expert Alvarez & Marsal as it weighs Jet Airways bailout

NEW DELHI/ABU DHABI: Etihad Airways has appointed turnaround specialist Alvarez & Marsal to conduct due diligence on Jet Airways Ltd. as it weighs bailing out the cash-strapped Indian carrier, three sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.
Executives from Alvarez & Marsal are camped in Jet Airways’ offices in Mumbai and are taking stock of the airline’s operations and looking into its financial health and records, one of the sources said.
The Abu Dhabi-based carrier plans to raise its stake in Jet Airways from the current 24 percent but it wants the airline’s founder and chairman Naresh Goyal to give up control, sources have told Reuters.
“Alvarez & Marsal are restructuring consultants. If they are there it means they are looking for stuff to cut,” said a second person who is familiar with the matter.
An Etihad spokeswoman declined to comment. Alvarez & Marsal did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
Jet Airways did not respond to an email seeking comment but said last week it is in talks with lenders to resolve its debt problems. It is seeking a cash injection by stakeholders and will make board changes.
Jet Airways, which controls a sixth of India’s booming aviation market, desperately needs a bailout. High fuel taxes, a weak rupee and price competition have squeezed profitability, leaving the airline with net debt of $1.13 billion.
Earlier in January it defaulted on a debt payment to a consortium of banks, led by State Bank of India (SBI), prompting ratings agency ICRA to downgrade the carrier.
The airline also owes money to employees, vendors and lessors — some of whom are considering taking back aircraft, sources have told Reuters.
Jet Airways brought on board two global consultants last year who also have people working out of the airline’s office in Mumbai, the first source said. McKinsey is helping with cost-cutting efforts and Boston Consulting Group (BCG) is looking at ways to increase revenue, he added.
McKinsey did not respond to an email seeking comment. BCG said it would not comment on any company specific matters.
Representatives of both airlines met with creditors, led by Jet’s biggest lender SBI, in Mumbai last week to discuss a proposal that involves Etihad increasing its 24 percent stake, a source told Reuters.
The Abu Dhabi carrier can go up to a maximum of 49 percent according to India’s foreign ownership rules for airlines. Also, if it breaches the 25-percent mark it must adhere to strict capital markets rules.
The markets regulator, Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), said on Thursday it had not yet expressed any “view” on giving such a concession to Jet or Etihad.


Filipino remittances from the Middle East down 15.3% in 2018

Updated 51 sec ago
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Filipino remittances from the Middle East down 15.3% in 2018

  • Cash remittances from OFWs in Saudi Arabia fell 11.1 percent last year to $2.23 billion from $2.51 billion previously
  • Personal remittances are a major driver of domestic consumption

DUBAI: Money sent home by overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the Middle East went down 15.3 percent to $6.62 billion in 2018 from $7.81 billion a year earlier, latest government data shows.
Lower crude prices, which affected most OFW host countries in the region, the job nationalization schemes of Gulf states and a deployment ban last year of household service workers to Kuwait were the primary reasons for the decline, a reversal from the 3.4 percent remittance growth recorded in 2017.
A government study has noted that Saudi Arabia was the leading country of destination for OFWs, with more than a quarter of Filipinos being deployed there at any given time, together with the United Arab Emirates (15.3 percent), Kuwait (6.7 percent) and Qatar (5.5 percent).
Cash remittances from OFWs in Saudi Arabia fell 11.1 percent last year to $2.23 billion from $2.51 billion a year before; down 19.9 percent to $2.03 billion in the UAE from $2.54 billion in 2017; 14.5 percent lower in Kuwait to $689.61 million from $806.48 million and 9.2 percent down in Qatar to $1 billion in 2018, from $1.1 billion a year earlier.
The Philippine government issued a deployment ban for Kuwait early last year, and lasted for five months, after a string of reported deaths and abuses on Filipino workers in the Gulf state.
OFW remittances from Oman, which implemented a job nationalization program like that of Saudi Arabia and the UAE, dove 33.8 percent to $228.74 million in 2018 from $345.41 million a year before. In Bahrain, cash sent by Filipinos rose 2.2 percent to $234.14 million last year from $229.02 million previously.
Meanwhile, overall OFW remittances grew 3 percent year-on-year to $32.2 billion, the highest annual level to date.
“The growth in personal remittances during the year was driven by remittance inflows from land-based OFs with work contracts of one year or more and remittances from both sea-based and land-based OFs with work contracts of less than one year,” the Philippine central monetary authority said.
Personal remittances are a major driver of domestic consumption and in 2018 accounted for 9.7 percent of the Philippines’ gross domestic product.