SpiceJet’s shares end over 19% higher amid reports of stake sale

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SpiceJet’s shares jumped over 19 per cent after media reports stated that IndiGo co-founder Rakesh Gangwal was buying a ‘sizeable’ stake in the airline. 


Following the reports, SpiceJet’s shares ended Friday’s session 19.39 per cent higher at Rs 43.60 on the BSE. The airline’s market capitalisation stood at Rs 2982.85 crore. 


Queries sent to SpiceJet and Rakesh Gangwal remained unanswered till press time. 


SpiceJet has been facing a cash crunch for the last several quarters. It is also dealing with multiple court cases regarding money owed to its lessors, former promoter Kalanithi Maran, and financial services firm Credit Suisse. 


The airline is currently operating about 1,483 flights per week, which is 17.5 per cent lower than in the same month last year, according to aviation analytics firm Cirium. 


Amid continuing troubles, the airline’s share price has fallen from Rs 73 per share in 2018 to Rs 44 per share this year. Similarly, its market cap has reduced from Rs 4,264 crore to Rs 2,983 crore in the same period. 


Currently, the promoter group in SpiceJet which includes Ajay Singh and his family, and Spice Healthcare own 56.5 per cent stake in the airline. 


The airline commands a 4.4 per cent share in the domestic aviation market as of September 2023.  


Rakesh Gangwal has been paring down his stake in IndiGo following a dispute over corporate governance issues with co-founder Rahul Bhatia.


He holds a 13.23 per cent stake in Interglobe Aviation (IndiGo’s parent company) as of June 2023, data provided by stock exchanges showed. 


In August this year, Interglobe’s promoter, Shobha Gangwal sold 3 per cent stake in the company. She had sold a total of 11.52 million shares between Rs 2,441 and Rs 2,427 per share to mop up Rs 2,802 crore. Prior to the stake sale, Rakesh Gangwal and his family held 29.72 per cent stake in InterGlobe. 


In February this year, the Gangwal family had reduced its stake by a further 4 per cent for around Rs 2,900 crore in a block deal.


In September last year, the Gangwal family had sold about 2.8 per cent stake through block deals for around Rs 2,000 crore, bringing down its holdings to 33.78 per cent.


One of the founders of IndiGo, Gangwal was the president and chief executive officer of US Airways Group from 1998 until his resignation in 2001. He later served as head of travel technology firm Worldspan Technologies before setting up IndiGo with Rahul Bhatia.


SpiceJet had reported a net profit of Rs 197.6 crore for the first quarter of 2023-24 (FY24) after recording a net loss of Rs 6.2 crore on a consolidated basis in the last quarter of FY23 (Q4FY23). 


In September, the airline paid $1.5 million to Swiss company Credit Suisse following a Supreme Court directive. 


Credit Suisse and SpiceJet have been embroiled in a legal conflict since 2015 concerning outstanding debts of approximately $24 million. In August 2022, both parties informed the Supreme Court that they had come to an agreement. Nevertheless, in March 2023, Credit Suisse initiated a contempt case against Singh and the airline, asserting that they had not honoured their payment obligations as outlined in the settlement terms.


Singh is embroiled in a dispute with former SpiceJet promoter Kalanithi Maran. The airline paid Rs 100 crore owed to Maran following Delhi High Court’s direction on the arbitral award. 


This dispute traces its origins back to 2015 when Maran sold his 58.46 percent stake in SpiceJet for a meager sum of Rs 2.


In 2016, Maran took the matter to the Delhi High Court, alleging that the airline had breached their sale agreement by failing to issue him share warrants and preference shares. In response, the court, in 2017, directed the airline to deposit Rs 579 crore and encouraged both parties to resolve the matter through arbitration. In 2018, an arbitration tribunal ruled in Maran’s favor, awarding him Rs 579 crore plus interest.


On May 29 this year, the high court ordered SpiceJet to pay the interest of Rs 380 crore to Maran. However, on July 7, the Supreme Court rejected SpiceJet’s request for an extension to make the payment of Rs 380 crore to Maran and his company, Kal Airways. On July 10, Kal Airways firmly stated that there was no possibility of an “amicable” settlement with SpiceJet and demanded that the airline adhere to the court’s order to pay the interest amount.

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