Jet Airways says Naresh Goyal hasn’t pledged shares to PNB
Mumbai: Jet Airways (India) Ltd, the country’s second largest airline by passengers carried, on Wednesday said its founder chairman Naresh Goyal will not dilute his equity below 51% at any time. “Jet Airways hereby wishes to clarify that the recent media reports stating that Naresh Goyal (the airline’s promoter and chairman) has pledged 51% shares held by him in Jet Airways to Punjab National Bank (PNB) is factually inaccurate and incorrect,” Jet Airways spokesperson said. The spokesperson said the transaction with PNB is just an undertaking of non-disposal of any further equity and not a matter of pledging of his shares. “Jet Airways would like to categorically state, for the benefit of all its stakeholders, that the undertaking given to PNB implies that the airline’s promoter and chairman will not dilute his equity, by way of a sale, below 51% at any time, and will continue to be the majority shareholder in the airline,” the spokesperson added. On Tuesday, the Press Trust of India reported that Goyal has pledged his entire 51% shareholding, valued at over Rs.2,600 crore, to state-run PNB. According to the report, the airline, in a regulatory filing on Tuesday evening, had said Goyal has pledged all his 57.93 million shares, constituting 51% holding in the airline, effective 8 January to PNB with a “non-disposal undertaking”. The reason for pledging of shares or the amount raised was not disclosed. An airline consultant, requesting anonymity citing sensitivity, said “non-disposal undertaking” is not technically a “pledge”. “But the implication is same. A banker is asking shares as collateral to lend money,” he said. At 1.30pm, shares of Jet Airways were trading at Rs.458.80 apiece on BSE, down 1.2% from their previous close, while India’s benchmark Sensex Index fell 0.6% to 27,262.48 points. UAE-based Etihad Airways PJSC holds a 24% stake in Jet Airways as a strategic partner, while remaining shares are owned by institutional and retail investors. Jet Airways currently operates a fleet of 116 aircraft connecting 71 destinations in India and abroad.