Mumbai firm Darwin Group submits bid to invest in grounded Jet Airways

Industry:    May, 2019

Ajay Harinath Singh, a Mumbai-based resident who claims to run diverse businesses across 11 countries, has submitted an offer to invest in Jet Airways.

Singh’s Darwin Platform Group (DPG) is the third unsolicited bidder to stake a claim for revival of the grounded airline. Others include former flight steward-turned-entrepreneur Jason Unsworth and London-based investment firm Adi Partners.

Representatives of DPG, including its Chief Executive Officer Rahul Ganpule met executives of SBI Capital Markets on Wednesday. The meeting took place a day after top-level exits at Jet, which is seen as a pointer to airline’s uncertain future.

Lenders had called for bids last month and among qualified parties, only Etihad Airways submitted a conditional investment offer. The Abu Dhabi airline has said anyone investing more than 5 per cent in Jet should have its approval. Lenders continue to seek investors to turn around the airline and are meeting those making unsolicited bids.

A report on said a Russian aviation professional named Oleg Evdokimov, too, has submitted his expertise to turn around Jet but he is not interested in picking up a stake.

While continuing to engage with unsolicited parties lenders are taking their offers with a pinch of salt. “Discussions are going on to ascertain their seriousness. We have asked them for documents and proofs of investible funds,” said a source from the banking industry.

DPG representatives told SBI Capital Markets they could invest Rs 14,000 crore in the airline and sought details of the company’s assets, liabilities and litigation. DPG website says Singh is a native of Sultanpur (Uttar Pradesh), with a royal-cum-business background and can speak Dutch, French and Russian language, along with other Indian languages. Singh’s business interests span across various areas like finance, farming and film production.

“We are not doing this for publicity. We have audited reports of all our 18 companies and these can be checked. Jet is a well known brand and if there is an opportunity to invest, why not,” Ganpule said. He said the company had a land bank and a cash reserve to raise funds, required for the bid. Ganpule said the group was largely an investment company but had operating businesses in oil and gas and infrastructure.