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Jet,Sahara honchos to meet tomorrow to overcome merger hurdles!

Written by: Staff
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Mumbai, Mar 22 (UNI) Amidst intense speculation that a meeting of top managements of Jet Airways and Sahara will take place here tomorrow to discuss measures to surmount problems arising out of the delay in obtaining regulatory approvals for their proposed merger, Jet Airways director Saroj Datta this evening denied any knowledge about such a meeting being held tomorrow, either in Mumbai or anywhere else.

''I am not aware of any such meeting,'' Mr Datta said when quizzed about the meeting.

Replying to a question on whether the escrow account deadline of March 24 would be extended in case of continued delay in obtaining regulatory approvals, he declined to comment on the matter, which he, however, described as ''an integral part of the deal.'' ''it is a matter to be decided between the two owners who will meet before the deadline. However, I don't know if a meeting will be held tomorrow,'' he told UNI.

Mr Datta, however, said ''we are now awaiting the ministry of civil aviation's approval for the merger of Air Sahara with Jet Airways and once that comes through we can appoint our nominees on the board of Air Sahara.'' Jet Airways will then be able to appoint five persons of its choice on the Air Sahara board.

There was, thus, no change in Jet's ''the deal is on'' stance, despite the delay in obtaining approvals from the regulatory authorities for the merger, the largest at Rs 2,300-crore in Indian aviation industry's history.

While none of the concerned parties were willing to go on record, the aviation industry grapevine is abuzz with speculation that the deal will be allowed to go through and Jet Airways allowed to use the parking bays and flying rights of Air Sahara, post-acquisition.

The merger, if it comes through, will catapult Jet Airways instantly to pole position in the Indian aviation industry's sweepstakes with nearly 50 per cent marketshare.

The only likely pinprick that could spoil the party, according to the market observors, is the notice reportedly issued by the Directorate-General, Investigations and Registrations (DGIR) to Jet Airways, seeking details about the proposed merger.

The DGIR is the investigation arm of the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Commission (MRTPC) and is examining a possible monopolistic situation arising out of the proposed merger.

UNI JJ SA AG2031

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