November 15, 2018 / 5:17 AM / a month ago

Tata Sons chairman to pitch to board on plan to buy Jet - report

Nov 15 (Reuters) - Tata Sons Ltd Chairman N. Chandrasekaran is expected to present to the board on Friday a business viability plan on a proposed acquisition of cash-strapped Jet Airways, the Times of India reported, citing people close to the development.

This is the clearest sign yet that talks are gathering steam to seal a deal that could transform India’s largest conglomerate from airline fringe player into the country’s dominant, full-service international carrier.

Tata’s businesses are as varied as IT services and car-making. In aviation, it runs the Vistara full-service carrier together with Singapore Airlines Ltd. Vistara applied to begin international flights earlier this year.

According to an Economic Times report on Thursday, Tata SIA Airlines, Vistara’s parent, is eyeing an all-stock merger with Jet, founded by entrepreneur Naresh Goyal who has a 51 percent stake. Etihad Airways has a 24 percent stake in Jet.

Tata and Jet are inching toward a two-step transaction that would first see Jet merge with Tata SIA through a share swap, the report said, citing sources.

The Goyal family, Etihad, Tata Sons and Singapore Airlines will all become partners in the new company, it added.

The second step of the deal could involve Singapore Airlines buying the Goyal family’s stake in the combined entity, giving the family a complete exit.

Shares in Jet Airways rose 4 percent on Thursday.

The report said the talks between representatives of Tata, Singapore Airlines and the Jet Airways management were spurred after U.S. private equity giant TPG Capital took its foot off the pedal in its talks to buy a stake in Jet.

Singapore Airlines said it did not comment on “speculation”.

Jet Airways and Tata Sons did not immediately respond to Reuters requests for comment. Naresh Goyal and family were not immediately reachable for comment. (Reporting by Chris Thomas in Bengaluru; Editing by Himani Sarkar)

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