Indian TV mogul buys another airline

The founder of Sun TV Kalanithi
Maran and his unlisted aviation firm Kal Airways have agreed to buy 37.7 per
cent in budget airline SpiceJet Ltd andwill make an open offer for a further 20
per cent, SpiceJet said today.

Maran will buy the stake from US investor
Wilbur Ross and Royal Holdings Services Ltd, owned by the Kansagra family, for
Rs 47.25 a share for a total consideration of about Rs 739 crore, the airline
said in an advertisement in the Business Standard paper.

The deal has been struck at a
discount of over 14 per cent to the current market price.

Maran, who runs 20 television
channels and two general newspapers in south India, will buy 30.23 per cent from
Ross, who holds stake through foreign currency convertible bonds, and 7.49 per
cent from the Kansagra family, SpiceJet said.

Last week SpiceJet had allotted
41.8 million shares to various funds held by WL Ross & Company, on partial
conversion of FCCBs.

The airline’s board had approved
Maran’s acquisition proposal on June 12, it said in a statement to the BSE.

Open offer

Maran will make the mandatory open
offer for 82.98 million shares at Rs 57.76 a share, SpiceJet added.

“It’s a positive for the
shareholders as they are making the open offer at around the market price
itself and even the fundamentals of the company are quite strong,” said
Sharan Lillaney, analyst with Angel Broking, who has an “accumulate”
rating on the stock. SpiceJet had swung to a net profit of Rs 27.4 crore in
Jan-March against a loss of Rs 7.8 crore a year ago, as air traffic surged.

“It does appear to be a good
time for Maran to enter the Indian aviation space. But we need to understand
what his future course of action will be,” another Mumbai-based airline analyst
said. Rapid economic growth and a surge in air traffic has renewed interest in India’s
aviation sector.

Globally, too, the outlook is
changing with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) expecting its
members to report a collective $2.5 billion in profit this year versus an
earlier prediction of a loss of $2.8 billion. At 10:32 a.m., SpiceJet shares
were up 0.18 per cent at Rs 56.15 in a firm Mumbai market.

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