Etihad submits bid for India’s Jet Airways

Jet Airways aircrafts are seen parked at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport in Mumbai last month. (Reuters)
Updated 10 May 2019
0

Etihad submits bid for India’s Jet Airways

  • Etihad, which already holds a minority stake in Jet, is interested in re-investing in the airline
  • Jet is saddled with roughly $1.2 billion in bank debt

NEW DELHI: Etihad Airways has submitted a bid for a stake in India’s Jet Airways, the unit of State Bank of India (SBI) overseeing the sale of the stricken airline said on Friday.
SBI had invited binding bids for a stake in the airline, which is saddled with roughly $1.2 billion in bank debt. Binding offers were due by 6 p.m. local time on Friday.
Etihad, which already holds a minority stake in Jet, is interested in re-investing in the airline, subject to certain conditions, a spokesman for the Middle Eastern carrier said earlier on Friday.
However, he added that Etihad “cannot be expected to be the sole investor” and “additional suitable investors would need to provide the majority of Jet Airways’ required recapitalization.”
Etihad gave no indication whether it was working with any other investors that might take a majority stake in Jet.
Once India’s largest private airline, Jet was crippled by mounting losses as it tried to compete with low-cost rivals IndiGo and SpiceJet.
Jet, which also owes vast sums to its lessors, pilots, fuel suppliers and other parties, stopped all flights from April 17 after its lenders, led by SBI, refused to extend more funds to keep the carrier flying.
Etihad was among four investors that submitted initial bids for the airline last month. The others were private equity firms TPG Capital and Indigo Partners and Indian wealth fund National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF).
SBI has also received two unsolicited, non-binding bids for Jet, the bank’s Chairman Rajnish Kumar told reporters, after a news conference on Friday, adding it had no plans at this time to drag the airline into a bankruptcy process
“(We’ve) made disproportionate efforts to keep Jet flying,” Kumar said.
Jet for several months tried to convince investors, including Etihad, to pump in money and save the airline. But several potential investors had at least one condition — Jet’s founder and former chairman Naresh Goyal must cede control.
When Jet failed to garner interest, the banks, led by SBI, moved in with a rescue plan which was first announced in February and put into action in March after Goyal stepped down.
“A few unsolicited offers have also been received which the lenders may deliberate upon subsequently,” SBI Capital Markets said in a statement without giving further details.
Analysts are skeptical the sale process will succeed.
“The process of bidding and winning isn’t so easy,” said HDFC Securities analyst Deepak Jasani. “Day by day, losses and loans are rising at Jet, the more the process is delayed the more the situation becomes irreparable,” he said.
While the bid process was on, Jet was forced to vacate its offices at many airports across the country and employee access was revoked. Lessors also forced Jet to ground dozens of planes over non-payment of dues and it is left with just 13 aircraft, a senior SBI source told Reuters.
At its peak, 26-year-old Jet operated over 120 planes and well over 600 daily flights, flying Bollywood film-stars, politicians and business tycoons across India and the world.
If a deal fails to materialize, the airline could be dragged into bankruptcy by creditors, putting thousands of jobs at risk.


HSBC plans more China tech jobs in push for market share

Updated 23 min 13 sec ago
0

HSBC plans more China tech jobs in push for market share

  • Europe’s biggest bank by assets will boost headcount at its technology centers in Guangzhou, Shanghai and Xi’an by 14 percent
  • HSBC’s expansion plan in China comes amid growing use of technology in the financial sector — from payments to transactions
HONG KONG: HSBC plans to add more than 1,000 jobs this year at its technology development centers in China, as the Asia-focused lender seeks to bolster its presence in the world’s second largest economy.
Europe’s biggest bank by assets will boost headcount at its technology centers in Guangzhou, Shanghai and Xi’an by 14 percent from a current 7,000-strong workforce, said HSBC Chief Information Officer Darryl West.
In recent years the London-based bank has spent $3 billion annually on its group technology operations which employ 40,000 people worldwide, and West said annual investments of $3-$3.5 billion are planned over the next few years.
Many global banks set up low-cost hubs in China and India more than a decade ago to maintain their complex worldwide information technology networks, but these centers have now become a core part of their operations.
The centers develop and implement risk and fraud management technologies, as well as digital applications that make it easier for banks to attract customers and deliver faster and more secure services.
HSBC’s expansion plan in China, a key market for the bank, comes amid growing use of technology in the financial sector — from payments to transactions.
At stake is a bigger share of the billions of dollars worth of retail and corporate banking business in a major financial market with a growing customer base.
“There is a lot more we can do with technology in mainland China. The level of technology adoption and innovation in China is way ahead of other markets,” West told reporters during a tour of HSBC’s technology center in the southern city of Guangzhou last week.
“We see mainland China as a tremendous source of talent, not just for the local market but our technology operations globally. We are hiring very aggressively here,” he added.
About 30 percent of the work done at the Guangzhou center, the largest HSBC tech facility in China with more than 5,000 employees, is for the mainland market and that share is expected to grow over the next couple of years.
HSBC is also using China-based tech centers to develop banking products for its global network, such as the bank’s UK mobile app which was developed in the northwestern city of Xi’an.
Outside China, HSBC employs more than 10,000 people at technology centers in India, with the rest in countries such as Britain, Canada, Hong Kong and the United States.
HSBC has in recent years lifted investment in China, including the prosperous southern Pearl River Delta region. Mainland China and Hong Kong together accounted for nearly 40 percent of the bank’s revenue in 2018.
The bank will invest $15-$17 billion in the next three years in areas including technology and China, its Chief Executive John Flint said last year.
The limited physical presence of foreign banks in China compared to dominant domestic rivals has been a challenge.
HSBC’s losses in retail banking and wealth management (RBWM) in mainland China widened to $200 million last year from $44 million in 2017. The bank aimed to reverse that with its investments in technology.
“Things like that, we see as very important for the next phase of our business growth ... once the major investments have gone in, RBWM will grow bigger and also profitable,” said HSBC Greater China Chief Executive Helen Wong.