The government is likely to change the law on foreign ownership of airlines "within days" in order to save debt-laden Kingfisher from going under, chairman Vijay Mallya has said.
Mallya told The Times that foreign carriers, whom he refused to identify, were ready to invest as soon as the change in the law was announced to allow overseas airlines to own up to 49% of an Indian carrier.
Mallya expressed confidence that a deal with a "foreign strategic investor" was likely. The paper quoted a financial source in Mumbai naming IAG, the owner of British Airways and Iberia, as one of the companies involved in the bid. Etihad of UAE had also discussed a tie-up involving a foreign carrier providing equity in exchange for a minority stake.
IAG said it was "too early to speculate about its interest in any Indian airline at this stage."
Mallya said he was also considering the sale of a 49% stake in whisky maker Whyte & Mackay as part of a drive to cut his group’s $4bn debt. UB Group CFO Ravi Negundadi said there had been interest from "a number of private equity players".
The money would be used to cut the debt of Consolidated USL, the spirits holding group, but Nagundadi denied the money would be used to pay of Kingfisher's debts.