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Now, Mallya is keen on SpiceJet

Vijay Mallya, who heads Kingfisher Airlines, says he is 'interested' in budget airline SpiceJet Ltd, reports Ranju Sarkar.

business Updated: Jun 16, 2007 14:06 IST

Is the liquor king fishing for SpiceJet to add spice to his Kingfisher Airlines?

The New York Times reported on Friday that Vijay Mallya was, though the words were cryptic.

"Am I interested?" he was quoted as saying. “The answer is ‘yes,’ …Am I going to get it? The answer is, ‘I don’t know.’”

Officials at both SpiceJet and the UB Group denied any deal in the works. But sources in the aviation industry say that some investors in SpiceJet, including the Tatas, may want to sell.

SpiceJet shares surged 13 per cent but closed up 1.3 per cent on the BSE after stake sale reports involving Jet Airways and Kingfisher. Royal Holding Services owns 12.91 per cent of SpiceJet, while Dubai investment firm Istithma holds 13.42 per cent.

There’s a buzz in aviation circles that some individual investors in SpiceJet such as Ajay Singh, a director who controls about 14 per cent in the airline, could sell. But Singh denied that he has any plans to sell.

"The industry is just consolidating. Things are improving. Why should I or any other investor sell now? The airline is well funded," said Ajay Singh.

The problem is that shares of Royal Holdings, the key promoter group, and institutional investors like Istithmar and Tatas are locked in for a period of one-and-half years according to the shareholding agreement of the recent equity deal. Singh’s stakes have no such clause. A Tata source said the group would sell at the right price.

First Published: Jun 15, 2007 17:12 IST