FILE PHOTO: A Jet Airways passenger aircraft takes off from the airport in Ahmedabad, August 12, 2013. REUTERS/Amit Dave/File Photo

MUMBAI (Reuters) – Jet Airways Ltd said late on Friday that its shareholders approved a plan to convert existing debt to equity, paving the way for the troubled company’s lenders to infuse funds and nominate directors to its board.

Jet’s board last week approved a plan by lenders, led by State Bank of India, for an equity infusion, debt restructuring and the sale or sale-and-lease-back of aircraft.

The plan will mean the lenders will have a bigger holding than any other shareholder.

Currently, Chairman Naresh Goyal owns a 51 percent stake in the company and Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways owns 24 percent.

Jet, which had net debt of 72.99 billion rupees ($1.03 billion) as of end-December, has debt payments looming next month, according to rating agency ICRA. It has been unable to pay pilots’ salaries and has outstanding bills to aircraft lessors.

The company, India’s biggest full-service carrier, is struggling with competition from budget rivals, high oil prices and a weaker rupee. The share price took a beating in 2018, losing nearly 70 percent of its value.

In a regulatory filing, Jet said on Friday that 98 percent of its shareholders voted to increase the share capital to 22 billion rupees ($309.8 million) from 2 billion rupees at a special meeting.

Jet, whose financial woes are set against the backdrop of wider aviation industry problems, has been in the red for four straight quarters.

($1 = 71.0200 Indian rupees)

Reporting by Promit Mukherjee in Mumbai and Tanvi Mehta in Bengaluru; Editing by Alasdair Pal and Jacqueline Wong


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