Thursday, July 17, 2008

SpiceJet gets US$80m from Wilbur Ross

Indian low cost carrier (LCC) SpiceJet has secured INR3.45bn (US$80m) in investments from PE firm Wilbur Ross & Co. The company is India’s second largest budget carrier with a fleet of 17 Boeing B737 planes and 10% market share. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed but the stake is likely to be limited at 15% as any transaction involving more than 15% will trigger an open offer.

The airline was in talks with Vijay Mallya’s Kingfisher Airlines which closed the negotiations citing steep valuation for the budget airline. But industry experts report that management control may be the actual reason behind the failure. Vijay Mallya has already secured the leading position in low cost model after taking control of Deccan Aviation and reasonably enough, wasn’t ready to shell out extra cash for another ‘strategic investment’. SpiceJet owners, Kansagra family and Dubai based Istithmar, on the other side were not prepared to lose management control.
Apparently, cutting a deal with Wilbur Ross was the preferred move for SpiceJet. With Wilbur Ross on board, the company must be more cautious though. Ross has made a reputation as a turnaround king for distressed industries. In the process he is often ruthless with the purchased entities and their management.

About Wilbur Ross: Ross entered the steel industry in 2002
and sewed up five deals within three years, investing US$2.2bn in the ailing steel plants of LTV and Bethlehem among others. In less than three years, Wilbur Ross sold his steel portfolio to LN Mittal pocketing US$4.5bn. Since then, he has turned focus on automotive components industry. In the recent times, the vulture (As New York Post calls him) has acquired a clutch of auto parts firms including Collins & Aikman, Oxford etc and formed a JV with interior specialist Lear Corporation.

1 comment:

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