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SpiceJet not mulling sale: Sun CFO


S.L. Narayanan, the group CFO of Sun, downplayed reports that a sale of airline SpiceJet in on the cards after Kalanithi Maran and his wife, Kavery Kalanithi, resigned from the board of directors of Kal Airways, the holding company of SpiceJet. The media-to-aviation Sun group is headed by Mr Maran.

Mr Maran quit Kal Airways to only reduce the number of directorships he holds, Mr Narayanan told NDTV in an exclusive interview, saying potential stake sale talks are not even at an exploratory stage.

Kal Airways along with Marans (in their personal capacity) hold over a 48 stake in the listed airline.

The Marans quitting the Kal Airways board does not mean a potential sale, Mr Narayanan clarified.

SpiceJet, India's second-biggest budget airline by market share, narrowed losses by 31.7 per cent in the July-September quarter, benefiting from massive cuts in capacity by troubled rival Kingfisher Airlines.

It still lost Rs. 164 crore in the quarter ended September 30, compared with a loss of Rs. 240 crore a year ago.

The company's auditors, however, said accumulated losses at the airline had fully eroded the net worth of the company as on September 30.

The company's ability to operate on a "going concern" basis is "significantly" dependent on establishing continued profitable operations and raising cash to meet short- and long-term obligations, the auditors said in a review report to the company.

Last month, SpiceJet chief executive Neil Mills said the airline is not in a hurry to mop up funds as it is paying all bills and salaries to its employee on time. "We have been looking at opportunities (funding) but we don't need it tomorrow. We are not desperate too much."

Stating that the carrier is open to investment from any quarters, Mr Mills said, "It could be with anybody. But it should make sense for us and our shareholders."

High jet fuel cost and airport charges are eating into industry's revenue, he said, but expressed hope the festival season may lead to higher load factor.

On SpiceJet's plan to directly import jet fuel (which currently accounts for nearly 50 per cent of operational cost) Mr Mills said the shipments would start as soon as the last `bureaucratic hurdle' is cleared.

The airline currently has a mix of Boeing 737s (36) and Bombardier Q400s (12) in its fleet of 48 planes.

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