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Top brass of Etihad, Jet meet Chidambaram

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Top brass of Etihad, Jet meet Chidambaram
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New Delhi: Ahead of finalising Etihad's deal to acquire 24 per cent stake in Jet Airways, top brass of the two carriers Friday met Finance Minister P Chidambaram here and are understood to have discussed regulatory requirements.

"I am happy and satisfied. I will speak to you at the right time," Jet promoter Naresh Goyal told reporters after he and Etihad President and CEO James Hogan met Chidambaram at the North Block headquarters of the Finance Ministry.

The two airlines are likely to clinch the deal soon and apply for approval of the stake sale deal to the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) of the Finance Ministry. Speculation is rife that the deal would be firmed up in the next ten days.

Asked when they would apply to the FIPB, Goyal said, "Whatever happens, we will tell you when it happens".

Hogan said, "All meetings have been great." Both of them refused to elaborate any further.

Goyal, Hogan and other officials of the two carriers had yesterday called on Commerce Minister Anand Sharma and Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh, with the latter saying that any deal should be within the regulatory framework and both airlines must meet all necessary requirements.

Etihad is likely to buy 24 per cent equity in Jet Airways valued at about Rs 1,800 crore. If the deal is carried through, it would be the first investment by a foreign carrier in an Indian airline.

Besides expanding the equity base of the premier Indian carrier, a major reason for Goyal to dilute part of his shareholding in Jet from 80 per cent has been the FIPB order to bring it down to regulatory levels.

Jet Airways has an equity base of 8.63 crore shares, valued at Rs 5,370 crore. At the end of the December quarter, M/S Tailwinds, Jet's promoter company owned by Goyal himself and incorporated in the Isle of Man, had 79.99 per cent stake, while Goyal had a personal stake of 0.01 per cent.

PTI

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