India’s Jet Airways suspends all operations

Jet Airways aircraft parked on the tarmac at Chattrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai. The Indian airline has grounded all of its operations after failing to secure emergency funding. (AFP)
Updated 17 April 2019
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India’s Jet Airways suspends all operations

  • Jet had asked a consortium of lenders led by the State Bank of India to urgently provide four billion rupees ($57.5 million) but said that this had not been forthcoming
  • The airline was once India’s second-biggest by market share but is on the brink of collapse with debts of more than $1 billion

MUMBAI: India’s debt-stricken Jet Airways grounded all of its operations Wednesday after failing to secure emergency funding from lenders, the carrier said in a statement.
“Jet Airways is compelled to cancel all its international and domestic flights. The last flight will operate today,” it said, adding that the decision would take “immediate effect.”
Jet had asked a consortium of lenders led by the State Bank of India to urgently provide four billion rupees ($57.5 million) but said that this had not been forthcoming.
“This has been a very difficult decision but without interim funding, the airline is simply unable to conduct flight operations in a manner that delivers to the very reasonable expectations of its guests, employees, partners and service providers,” it added.
The airline was once India’s second-biggest by market share but is on the brink of collapse with debts of more than $1 billion.
Jet was operating just five planes on Wednesday because it could not pay its bills, down from a fleet of more than 120 at its peak.
The carrier has canceled hundreds of flights in recent weeks, stranding thousands of passengers.
It has repeatedly defaulted on loans and failed to pay staff in recent months.
The consortium took control of Jet in March, pledging to give $218 million in “immediate funding support” as part of a debt resolution plan.
But they have failed to release most of the money and the banks also failed to agree after a meeting of several hours on Monday on how to proceed.
The SBI-led consortium is looking for a buyer for Jet and a deadline passed on Friday for prospective bidders to express an interest in acquiring a 75 percent stake in the carrier.
The SBI is yet to announce a shortlist of prospective bidders but Indian media said four were in the running including Etihad Airways, which already owns a 24 percent stake.
“Jet Airways will now await the bid finalization process by SBI and the consortium of Indian Lenders,” the airline said, adding that it hoped to resume services “as soon as possible.”
Bad investments, competition from several low-cost carriers, high oil prices and a weak rupee have led to Jet’s current financial predicament, analysts say.
A collapse of Jet, and the loss of more than 20,000 jobs, would deal a blow to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pro-business reputation as he seeks a second term in ongoing national elections.


Saudi Real Estate Refinance Co. plans up to $1.07bn sukuk sale this year

Updated 23 April 2019
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Saudi Real Estate Refinance Co. plans up to $1.07bn sukuk sale this year

  • The plan by SRC, a subsidiary of Saudi Arabia’s sovereign Public Investment Fund, comes as it prepares to purchase more home loan portfolios
  • SRC, formed in 2017, is also keen to tap foreign institutional investors for its debt sale this year

RIYADH: Saudi Real Estate Refinance Co. (SRC), modelled on US mortgage finance firm Fannie Mae, aims to issue up to 4 billion riyals ($1.07 billion) of long-term sukuk this year, its chief executive said on Tuesday.

The plan by SRC, a subsidiary of Saudi Arabia’s sovereign Public Investment Fund, comes as it prepares to purchase more home loan portfolios from mortgage financing companies and banks to boost the Kingdom’s secondary mortgage market.

SRC, formed in 2017, is also keen to tap foreign institutional investors for its debt sale this year, Fabrice Susini told Reuters in an interview.

“Our strategy is clearly to tap the market twice this year,” he said. “We are really looking at probably issuing something between ... 2 and 4 billion riyal that we may be issuing in two tranches.

He said SRC was looking at sukuk in the 10 to 15-year range, to help minimize refinancing risks. “Generally speaking we are trying to issue as long as possible,” Susini said.

He said the company was assessing whether it could also issue bonds in currencies other than the local riyal.

In March, SRC completed a 750 million riyal sukuk issue with multiple tenors, under a program that allows it to issue up to 11 billion riyals of local currency denominated Islamic bonds.

“The rule of the game for us is, like many projects across the Kingdom, attract liquidity from foreign investors,” Susini said.

He said SRC had spent 1.2 billion riyals from its balance sheet buying mortgages from local mortgage financing companies and provided liquidity to these firms.

It has also signed initial accords with several commercial banks to acquire housing mortgage portfolios.

Saudi Arabia’s housing ministry is targeting the mortgage market to reach a total value of 502 billion riyals by 2020 from around 300 billion riyals now.

The government wants to increase activity in the real estate market as it moves to revitalize the economy and is taking steps to reform the sector as part of its 2030 reform plan.

It has been working with developers and local banks to counter a shortage of affordable housing — one of the country’s biggest social and economic problems. Saudi Arabia wants 60 percent of its nationals to own homes by 2020, up from 47 percent in 2016.

The size of real estate financing relative to its gross domestic product is 5 percent in Saudi Arabia compared to 69 percent in the United States, 74 percent in the United Kingdom and 43 pct in Canada, the housing ministry has said.

“The goal of SRC in this market was to make sure that we will be able to refinance at least around 10 percent of the market in 2020, and 20 percent of the market by 2028,” Susini told Reuters.