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Jan 02, 2013 at 08:47pm IST

Jet Airways frontrunner for Etihad investment: Source

New Delhi: Jet Airways Ltd is the frontrunner for an investment by Gulf carrier Etihad Airways, a senior government source told reporters on Wednesday, adding a deal was likely in 10 days.

Etihad Airways, seeking to widen operations in India and other Asian markets, is in the final stages of talks to buy part of either Jet Airways or grounded rival Kingfisher Airlines, a government official had said on December 17.

"From what I understand, they were talking about 1,500 crore to 1,800 crore (15-18 billion rupees) for 24 per cent," the official said.

Jet Airways frontrunner for Etihad investment: Source

According to a government source, Jet Airways is the frontrunner and a deal in this regard is likely in 10 days.

Etihad, seeking to widen its operations in India, is in the final stages of talks to buy part of either Jet Airways or grounded rival Kingfisher Airlines, the same official had said on December 17. Etihad declined to comment and a spokeswoman for Jet Airways said she did not have any information on a possible deal.

Etihad and Jet already have a code-sharing agreement, and a tie-up could make Jet a more formidable competitor to state-owned Air India while strengthening Etihad's position against Dubai-based Emirates Airline, which carries a big chunk of the traffic between India and the Middle East.

Cash- and debt-strapped Kingfisher, controlled by liquor baron Vijay Mallya, has been scrambling to find an investor for more than a year and has not flown since the start of October. Its operating licence expired at the end of December.

Jet Airways shares, currently valued at about $920 million, closed 0.3 per cent higher on Wednesday ahead of the remarks by the government official.

Jet shares jumped 62 per cent between October and December on investor hopes for a deal after India decided to allow foreign carriers to buy stakes of up to 49 per cent in local carriers.

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