Could a Russian fund be interested in bankrupt Indian carrier Jet Airways? Reports surfacing today indicate that the Far East Development Fund is showing interest in the airline. This is according to a source familiar with the issue. It has been nearly a year since the airline ceased operations due to insufficient funds and it has been looking for new investors ever since.
What is the Far East Development Fund?
The Far East Development fund has been in place since November 2011 and was started by VEB.RF – also known now as the State Development Corporation. Interestingly, Vladimir Putin was once the chairman of the bank’s supervisory board in 2008. In fact, the Russian government is very much tied to the bank as well as the fund.
The goal of the fund, according to its website is:
“[T]he search, structuring and delivery of projects capable of producing profound multiplicative effects and creating of new opportunities for the attraction of investments in Russia’s Far East.”
The Fund says it aims to attract international partners possessing “professional competences” to the region, prioritizing cooperation with companies and financial institutions from the Asia Pacific region – namely China, Japan, and the Republic of Korea.
The total assets of the fund are listed as RUB 59,6 billion, the equivalent of US$930 million.
Looking at Jet Airways
“They submitted some documents just last week,” said the source close to the matter.
According to India’s Economic Times, India has pledged its support towards Russia’s goal of developing its Far East region. In fact, in September 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the ‘Act Far East’ policy, announcing a US$1 billion line of credit to develop the resource-rich region.
Over the last few months, Jet Airways has been looking for EoIs – expressions of interest – to take control and ownership of the airline. The airline has been going through bankruptcy proceedings at the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) as debtors try to recoup their losses.
Hopes were initially high for South American conglomerate Synergy Group, but then faltered when it wasn’t able to put forward a solid business plan. However, it’s not fully out of the running as it submitted a fresh expression of interest in January. Indian asset reconstruction company Prudent is also reported as having interest.
It would make good diplomatic sense for Russia to invest in this Indian carrier. Both Russia and India are part of BRICS – a group of rapidly developing nations thought to be the most likely to dominate the global economy in the 21st century. BRICS nations also include Brazil, China, and South Africa. Politically, closer ties between India and Russia could better sustain both countries against the established western economic powers.
However, whether or not investing in Jet Airways makes good economic and financial sense is a whole other question.