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Jet, Sahara hold talks on acquisition

Top brass of the two airlines today started discussions to clear irritants from the biggest aviation deal in India.

india Updated: Mar 23, 2006 16:54 IST

Amid speculation that there was a price re-negotiation for Jet Airways taking over Air Sahara, officials of the two airlines on Thursday started discussions to clear irritants from the biggest aviation deal in India.

Jet Airways Chief Naresh Goyal, along with his top officials flew in from Mumbai this morning to start meetings with Sahara officials even as journalists got no answer to queries if the deal was through and whether price for the Rs 2,300 crore deal was being re-negotiated.

There was speculation that Jet might bring down its offer by about Rs 1,000 crore as Sahara has not obtained some of the clearances from the government. The agreement between the two sides is structured in a manner in which price has been fixed for specific components of the acquisition.

Sahara Group Chairman Subrata Roy is also in Delhi but it was not clear whether he and Goyal had a meeting.

However, sources said that Air Sahara Preseident Ronojoy Dutta, Executive Vice President Alok Sharma and Roy's elder son Seemanto were involved in attempts to resolve the pending issues from Sahara's side, while Jet Executive Director Saroj Datta, Vice President Vic Dungca along with others came here for talks.

Officials of the two sides also went to the headquarters of the Civil Aviation Ministry for discussions with government officials.

Sources also said re-negotiation was a possibility in case air traffic rights of Sahara were not transferred to Jet and in such a scenario, a discount for the same would have to be made.

However, they indicated that a clear picture could emerge by late Thursday or early Friday, when the escrow account opened by Jet for the transaction expires.

"The meeting is continuing. We have time till midnight," Goyal told waiting reporters at a five star hotel, where officials of the two airlines were closeted for many hours.

There is no word so far on clearance to Air Sahara's application to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, fuelling speculation about an extension of the last date for the escrow account beyond March 24.

Jet Airways has already got the requisite clearance from the Company Affairs Ministry for buying out the other airline.

First Published: Mar 23, 2006 16:27 IST