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Etihad Board to Take a Final Call on Buying Stake in Jet

Gulf carrier Etihad, which is tipped to acquire 24 per cent stake in Jet Airways, today said it would complete due diligence on the Indian carrier within a week and leave it to its board to take a final view on the matter.

In his first formal acknowledgment that the Abu Dhabi- based airline was interested in investing in Jet after several rounds of talks between the two carriers, President and CEO, James Hogan, said "we are undertaking due diligence" which would be completed in a week's time.

The findings would then be presented to the Etihad Board for it to take a final view on the matter, he said at a post- financial results press conference in Abu Dhabi, which was beamed live across the world.

Etihad today reported 200 per cent jump in net profit for 2012 to USD 42 million.

Hogan said he had last week met Finance Minister P Chidambaram, Commerce Minister Anand Sharma and Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh in Delhi to understand the new FDI rules and the regulatory requirements for buying equity in the Indian airline company.

Etihad is likely to buy 24 per cent equity in Jet Airways valued at about Rs 1,800 crore. If the deal is carried through, it would be the first investment by a foreign carrier in an Indian airline.

Parallely, a senior Jet Airways official said in Mumbai that discussions with Etihad were still going on and nothing has been finalised as yet.

"It is too early to talk about all these things. The discussions are still going on. We have not finalised anything," Jet Vice President (Commercial Strategy and Investor Relations) K G Vishwanath told financial analysts without directly referring to Etihad.

The statements came days after Jet announced a net profit of Rs 85 crore in three months to December in its Q3 results. A deal with Etihad would expand Jet's equity base, which now stands at 8.63 crore shares valued at Rs 5,370 crore.

Etihad has in the past two years picked up stake in several international carriers like Virgin Australia, airberlin, Air Seychelles and Irish carrier Aer Lingus.

Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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