Jet, Sahara may settle out-of-court | india | Hindustan Times
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Jet, Sahara may settle out-of-court

Sources say the discussions to settle the differences had narrowed down to the exit fee to be paid by Jet.

india Updated: Aug 19, 2006 17:18 IST

Private carrier Jet Airways, which is engaged in a legal battle with Sahara group over the failed deal to acquire Air Sahara, is understood to be holding discussions with the Sahara top brass for an out-of-court settlement.

Though both the sides would not officially say anything, sources familiar with the development said they were talking to each other on settling their differences over the Rs 2,200 crore deal out of court and discussions had narrowed down to the exit fee to be paid by Jet.

The two parties are negotiating an exit fee in the range of Rs 300 to Rs 700 crore, sources added.

While speculation was rife that Jet Airways chief Naresh Goyal had a meeting with Sahara Group chief Subroto Roy, the information could not be substantiated officially.

When contacted, officials of both sides rejected the meeting as speculation.

However, it is understood that some top officials of Jet, along with their legal team, were talking to Sahara top brass on reaching the settlement.

Among those who were believed to be part of the talks are Jet's V Dunka and Saroj Datta and Sahara's Alok Sharma and legal advisors of that group.

As part of the deal, reached in January, Jet had paid Rs 180 crore for revival of Air Sahara and Rs 500 crore in lieu of Air Sahara shares pledged with it, besides deposited Rs 1,500 crore in the escrow account opened for the purpose.

After the deal fell through over absence of regulatory clearances on June 21, Sahara moved a court in Lucknow seeking to bar Jet from operating the escrow account.

Jet had filed an arbitration petition before the High Court, seeking a direction to stop Sahara from accessing the escrow account as also prayed for transfer of all litigation in the matter to Mumbai.

The High Court is still considering the matter of jurisdiction.

Sources also indicated that two arbitrators had been identified, but the chief of the panel is yet to be decided.

The takeover, had it materialised, would have been India's first and largest civil aviation deal of its kind.

Though Sahara had agreed to extend the June 21 deadline for completing the share purchase agreement, Jet failed to respond to the offer and let the deal lapse.

Sources had then said that Jet had sought to reduce the enterprise value of the deal, subsequent to whose failure Sahara Group took back control of Air Sahara.

Sahara Group, which was planning to exit the aviation business had agreed to sell Air Sahara in January to Jet, which being the market leader was looking to consolidate its position.