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Mar 03, 2012 at 03:28am IST

Marans to pump Rs 100 cr into SpiceJet, up stake to 48.6 pc

Mumbai: SpiceJet promoter Kalanithi Maran will pump Rs 100 crore into the airline by picking up an additional 5 per cent equity-a development that stands out in the industry that is going through turbulent times mainly due to rising fuel costs.

The fund infusion by billionaire Maran comes in sharp contrast to cash-starved Kingfisher Airlines which has been unable to raise fresh funds for a host of reasons, compounded by a massive debt burden.

Hit hard by mounting losses, state-run Air India is also looking for a financial bailout.

Kalanithi Maran to pump Rs 100 cr into SpiceJet

Hit hard by mounting losses, state-run Air India is also looking for a financial bailout.

"Today our board met today and decided to allot 42.9 million preferential shares or 5 percent to the promoters. This will take the overall holding of promoters in the airline to 48.6 percent. This is value terms works out to be Rs 100 crore," SpiceJet Chief Executive Neil Mills told PTI from New Delhi.

In an evening filing to the BSE, SpiceJet said its board has decided to issue and allot up to 42,900,000 equity shares of face value of Rs 10 on a price to be determined as per Sebi norms to Kalanithi Maran on preferential basis subject to the approval of the members of the company and other regulatory approvals.

The filing also said the board further decided to conduct a postal ballot to give effect to the above and such other business as may be included in the postal ballot notice.

It may also be noted that FII holding in SpiceJet has nearly halved in the December quarter to 3.81 percent from a high 6.17 percent in the September quarter, according to data available with stock exchanges.

Kingfisher's promoter Vijay Mallya is finding it difficult to raise fresh equity, a precondition his debtors have set before considering any fresh funds to the carrier.

Reflecting the prevailing market conditions, SpiceJet too had reported Rs 39.3 crore loss in the December quarter, but still made it one of the best performing airlines. The loss came on the back of a 90 percent spike in fuel costs which offset a 41 percent rise in revenues.

The airline enjoys 16.3 percent market share as of January, making it the fourth largest carrier among the seven and the second largest among the no-frills airlines.

Maran, the media baron-turned airline owner, took over as chairman of SpiceJet in November 2010 after buying out American investor and turnaround king, Wilbur Ross.

When asked whether the board has discussed a fare hike, Mills admitted that the atmosphere is not conducive for any fare hike. This is despite the fact that airlines are selling a ticket at nearly Rs 1,200 discount, according to industry estimates.

Mills also said SpiceJet is seriously working towards importing aviation fuel on its own, following the recent government notification.

"We are very much interested in directly importing aviation fuel, as it can considerably bring down our operational cost. Our board which met today, discussed this.

We have asked our legal department to study the government proposal in detail, after which we will take a final call," Chief Executive Niel Mills told PTI from New Delhi.

Terming the recent government notification in this regard as a "very interesting proposal," Mills said, "the management is in principle very happy with going ahead with the ATF import proposal."

Asked whether the airline has discussed the logistics part for such a move with any of the oil marketing companies that alone have storage facilities, Mills answered in the affirmative saying, "we have already held discussions with two such companies."

On February 22, in a bid to help the debt-laden airlines to bring down their costs, the government allowed airlines to import jet fuel (ATF) directly under open-general licence.

The move will enable airlines to avoid payment of sales tax which ranges from 4 to 32 percent in some states.

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