Ex-SBI chief Purwar front-runner to head Jet interim board

New Delhi (IANS) Former State Bank of India (SBI) Chairman Arun Kumar Purwar tops the list of probable to head the interim board of Jet Airways, among others, sources told IANS.

The other names doing the rounds include Janaki Ballav and Arundhati Bhattarcharya, both former chairpersons of SBI, according to people privy to the developments.

Banking sources said that Purwar’s chances of heading the board are higher and he could be one of the two nominees on the Jet board, which became vacant after former Chairman Naresh Goyal and his wife Anita Goyal stepped down on Monday.

The other vacant seat could go to one of the other lenders — IDBI Bank, ICICI Bank or Yes Bank.

The decision, once taken by the lenders, would need the approval of the current board which is still in the process of being reconstituted.

People in the know of things said that the SBI-led management is likely to soon approve the names of the would be Chairman and the other member of the board. Thereafter, the newly constituted board will formally approve the next Chairman.

“The SBI wants to appoint a Chairman to head the interim board fast, as it does not want the baord to remain headless and also wants to start work on finding a buyer at the earliest,” a source said.

On Tuesday, the Civil Aviation Ministry had a meeting with the representatives of the SBI, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and Jet Airways whereby the airline assured that it would not ground any more flights and would talk to lessors to operationalise as many as 40 grounded aircraft by April-end.

Jet Airways has been struggling with cash flows for the past six months because of rising fuel costs and intense competition. It has even delayed payment to lessors, airport operators and oil marketing companies (OMCs) besides a part of its workforce to keep the company running.

Around 50 of its aircraft were grounded due to the inability to pay rentals. Its pilots and certain sections of the employees have been without pay for some months, forcing the pilots to issue an ultimatum to the erstwhile management on salary payments.

The airline owes Rs 8,000 crore to the SBI-led lenders’ consortium.

The SBI expects Jet Airways to find a new financial investor by the first quarter of the next fiscal.

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