SpiceJet sale on cards; Maran, wife quit holdco

Kavery Maran

Media baron Kalanithi Maran and his wife Kavery Kalanithi have resigned from the board of directors of Kal Airways, the holding company of SpiceJet. The move seems to suggest that the promoters may want to rope in an investor by offering a large and perhaps controlling stake.

"This is to inform that due to my preoccupation, I hereby tender my resignation from the post of chairman and director of the company with effect from 05 September 2012," Maran's resignation letter to Kal Airways board of directors, reviewed by FE, stated. Kavery's resignation letter also cited the same reason. E-mail queries sent to SpiceJet and Sun Network on Monday requesting more clarification on the resignations remained unanswered. Even after his resignation as the chairman of the promoter company, Maran remains the chairman of SpiceJet and his wife continues to be on the board of the airline.

Kal Airways has a 32.32% stake in SpiceJet while Maran has 16. 27%. SpiceJet has been in talks with foreign airlines, including Etihad Airways and Emirates for a stake sale, for some time now. "We are in talks with Bravia Capital and some others," SpiceJet chief executive Neil Mills said on November 1 without revealing the deal size. "We have always said we will only raise funds if we get a good deal," Mills added.

Sources say Emirates has been eyeing a controlling stake in SpiceJet. According to a leading consultant, by selling stake in the holding company, Maran can give up control of the airline but comply with the FDI rules. "Kal Airways is the largest shareholder in SpiceJet and can increase its stake up to 49% if its control is transferred to a foreign airline or an investor, therefore in essence, control of the airline will be transferred."

The current takeover norms stipulate that once 25% of the equity of a company has been acquired, an open offer is triggered. The acquirer needs to buy 26% of the remaining shares of the company from minority shareholders.

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