Founder of India’s beleaguered Jet Airways quits

Jet Airways founder Naresh Goyal has stepped down as chairman and left the company board. (AFP)
Updated 25 March 2019
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Founder of India’s beleaguered Jet Airways quits

  • Naresh Goyal leaves carrier as part of a rescue plan agreed with its lenders
  • Jet Airways has debts of more than $1 billion

NEW DELHI: Jet Airways Chairman Naresh Goyal will step down from the board and reduce his stake in the cash-strapped Indian carrier, the company said on Monday as it closes in on a rescue deal led by state-run banks.

The banks, led by State Bank of India (SBI), will convert their debt into equity and take a controlling stake in the airline for a token sum of 1 rupee ($0.0145), Jet said in a statement to the stock exchanges after its board met earlier on Monday.

The banks will also give the airline a fresh loan of $217.71 million (15 billion rupees) to meet payments and restore normal operations and the lenders will form an interim management committee to manage the airline, Jet said.

Saddled with debt of more than $1 billion, Jet owes money to banks, suppliers, pilots and lessors — several of whom have started terminating leases with the carrier.

The government has asked state-run banks, led by SBI, to rescue Jet without pushing it into bankruptcy, two people within the Indian government have told Reuters, adding that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is seeking to avert thousands of job losses weeks before a general election.

In its statement, Jet said the banks will initiate a bidding process to sell their stake in the airline to a new investor and that the process is expected to be complete by end-June.

Reports of Goyal’s departure led to a rally in Jet’s shares, which ended the day 12.4 percent higher.


US wins WTO ruling against China grain import quotas

Updated 16 min 18 sec ago
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US wins WTO ruling against China grain import quotas

GENEVA: The United States won a World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling on Thursday against China’s use of tariff-rate quotas for rice, wheat and corn, which it successfully argued limited market access for US grain exports.
The case, lodged by the Obama administration in late 2016, marked the second US victory in as many months. It came amid US-China trade talks and on the heels of Washington clinching a WTO ruling on China’s price support for grains in March.
A WTO dispute panel ruled on Thursday that under the terms of its 2001 WTO accession, China’s administration of the tariff rate quotas (TRQs) as a whole violated its obligation to administer them on a “transparent, predictable and fair basis.”
TRQs are two-level tariffs, with a limited volume of imports allowed at the lower ‘in-quota’ tariff and subsequent imports charged an “out-of-quota” tariff, which is usually much higher.
The administration of state trading enterprises and non-state enterprises’ portions of TRQs are inconsistent with WTO rules, the panel said.
Australia, Brazil, India, and the European Union were among those reserving their rights in the dispute brought by the world’s largest grain exporter.
In a statement, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue welcomed the decision, saying China’s system “ultimately inhibits TRQs from filling, denying US farmers access to China’s market for grain.”
If China’s TRQs had been fully used, $3.5 billion worth of corn, wheat and rice would have been imported in 2015 alone, it said, citing US Department of Agriculture estimates.
The two WTO rulings would help American farmers “compete on a more level playing field,” the USTR statement said, adding: “The (Trump) Administration will continue to press China to promptly come into compliance with its WTO obligations.”
The latest WTO panel said that the United States had not proven all of its case, failing to show that China had violated its public notice obligation under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) in respect to TRQs.
China’s Ministry of Commerce said in a statement on Friday it “regrets” the panel’s decision and that it would “earnestly evaluate” the panel’s report.
China would “handle the matter appropriately in accordance with WTO dispute resolution procedures, actively safeguard the stability of the multilateral trading system and continue to administer the relevant agricultural import tariff quotas in compliance with WTO rules,” it said.
Either side can appeal the ruling within 60 days.