New Delhi delays approval for Etihad-Jet deal

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New Delhi has deferred a decision to approve plans by Etihad Airways to buy a 24% stake in Jet Airways until it receives more details about the planned transaction.

The proposal was considered at a Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) meeting on 14 June, but local media reports say that the FIPB has requested more information from the two airlines over the control structures that would be put in place once the transaction has been made.

The reports add that some government agencies expressed concern that the deal could result in Jet being effectively controlled by non-Indian citizens, contrary to guidelines on foreign direct investment in airlines. In addition, they state that at least two-thirds of carriers' board members should be Indian citizens and that substantial ownership and effective control should rest with Indian nationals.

It is understood that as part of the $379 million deal announced in April that Etihad will seek three of the seven board seats. Jet chairman, Naresh Goyal, will, however, continue to hold a 51% stake in the airline once the transaction receives approval.

The FIPB has not yet given an indication of when it is likely to consider the matter.

Last week, Jet announced that former Air New Zealand chief executive Gary Toomey will be appointed as the carrier's new chief executive, pending government approvals. Toomey will succeed Nikos Kardassis, who resigned in early June.