Too Many Questions about SpiceJet ‘Bailout’

Notwithstanding platitudes about bad loans and NPAs, the government seems to have applied little thought in handling SpiceJet’s problems


As the capital market regulator keeps itself busy with tightening and rewriting corporate governance rules, the near-burnout, and probably bailout, of SpiceJet exposes the sham of this exercise.


As a consumer and victim of flights cancelled by the airline over the past month, you may be frothing with anger at the loss inflicted on you; but there is no redress in sight. As an employee, you are even worse, like the employees of Kingfisher Airlines. You will continue to work in the hope of being paid even while salaries are delayed. Months later, you may still be unpaid, while the Maran brothers, like Vijay Mallya, will see no dent in their lavish lifestyle and will continue to zip around the world in private jets. If you are a shareholder of SpiceJet, you are at the bottom of the heap. Most often, the bourse is seeking a clarification from the company on media headlines with some occasional opaque responses.


Just as it seemed that banks had woken up to RBI governor Raghuram Rajan’s tough talk on bad loans, at the V Kurien Memorial Lecture, the civil aviation ministry ordered banks and oil companies to bailout SpiceJet and the director general of civil aviation (DGCA) to lift curbs on the airline. After waiting for some official clarifications, here are a few questions to which neither shareholders nor taxpayers, who ultimately bear the brunt of all bailouts, have an answer.


• Dr Manmohan Singh and the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government attributed corporate bailouts and shady deals to the ‘compulsions of coalition dharma’. The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) does it for the ‘larger good of the aviation sector’. The question is: Why hasn’t the civil aviation ministry ordered a quick White Paper on the rules, policies, taxes and other issues, including unhealthy competition (tickets at Rs1), that have destroyed the aviation sector? Six months after assuming power, we have a deafening silence from the government on the massive bailout proposed by the UPA for Air India and not a word on Kingfisher Airlines either. We need a sensible aviation policy and a tough regulator in place, not just for airlines but also to ensure air safety and airport security. The government-ordered bailout, with no public information on the conditions attached, is a terrible idea.


• The NDA does not have a group of ministers (GOM) concept; so how has the civil aviation minister arrogated to himself the power to direct government banks which are under the finance ministry and regulated by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI)? Or to ask oil companies under the petroleum ministry to make further concessions to the airline when there are large arrears already? Media reports subsequently suggested that oil companies have ignored the aviation minister’s order and refused further concessions to SpiceJet.


• According to media reports, Kalanithi Maran and his wife Kavery, who control over 50% of SpiceJet’s equity, will back the Rs600-crore bailout with a personal guarantee, even as the promoters say they can’t put in more money. It is also hard to forget that Vijay Mallya had extended a personal guarantee for Kingfisher Airlines’ borrowings and went to court to collect a guarantee fee. But when the chips were down, Mr Mallya was unwilling to deliver on the guarantee.


• The ministry of corporate affairs (MCA) has enormous, but largely unused, powers to check or change managements or impose curbs on their powers, perks and remuneration.


SpiceJet is a fit case for quick action in shareholder interest because of the track record of the Marans. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has booked Dayanidhi Maran for diverting 323 high-speed phone lines to his home and connecting them through a dedicated underground cable to the SunTV network, to avoid paying fat telecom charges.


In August 2014, CBI also booked Dayanidhi Maran and his brother Kalanithi on charges of receiving a bribe of Rs742 crore in the Aircel-Maxis case and of coercing entrepreneur C Sivasankaran to sell Aircel to Maxis.


• Delivering the V Kurien Memorial Lecture, Dr Raghuram Rajan said we have many sick companies but no ‘sick promoters’. The Marans fit the bill. Forbes India estimates the Maran’s net worth at $2.3 billion in September 2014. Business Standard has listed Kalanithi Maran and his wife Kavery as the highest paid CEOs in India for the past couple of years. The couple took home nearly Rs120 crore in salary and perks in 2013-14 from Sun TV alone.


• Finally, will minister Ashok Gajapati Raju tell us why the Rs600-crore bailout will not be a futile when SpiceJet’s outstandings are in excess of Rs2,000 crore? What other steps has he taken to ensure that he is not asking banks, who have already lent over Rs1,500 crore to SpiceJet, to throw good money after bad, if the management fails to secure the long-term investment that it hopes to get?

Janakiraman Rajalakshmi
7 years ago
Indian policy makers & establishment have already wrought unspeakable havoc with its hindi besottment, love-hate relationship with English & downright contempt towards Tamil.

Recently when I went to Kolkata,
(my eyesight having deteriorated considerably owing to psychiatry drugs & ECT banned in USA)asked the old tamil mother tongued hotel manager called seetharaman to read & tell me that particular day's 'Thithi & Nakshathram' from the Tamil Calendar hanging on the wall.

He said " I cannot read tamil".
When I asked him to at least fetch it to me so that I could peer & read he refused telling me " wait....later that Bengali clerk will come...ask him to fetch it for you".

For this "manager" at the counter fetching that calendar was infra dig. Both sit in the same counter doing the same job. That Bengali is very smart & more SANE.Well dressed sans any airs. Just because he has been denied ENGLISH in school cannot handle the English speaking customers with equal aplomb as that supercilious tambram seetharaman. The owner is another uber rich supercilious tambram.

The various others selling Tamil magazines are Keralites.
Who handed over a Malayalam weekly when I asked for a Tamil weekly. When I pointed out they non chalantly replied " we cannot read tamil ...only malayalam...we are only in the selling business....go to some other shop" knowing very well they alone enjoy MONOPOLY in entire Kolkata as far as such Tamil magazines are involved as they are not much in demand.

Ill informed bjp by zealously wanting to do away with English(rajnath singhs etc) bringing in the same hindi ghost is MOST harmful.
Janakiraman Rajalakshmi
7 years ago
Kaanchi Shankaracharya (often referred to as MaHaPeriyavar)rightly said during 1947 itself:-

" What we have got is no svatanthra...we are very much in paratanthra" meaning we are very much under the strangle hold of the british & several vested foreign INIMICAL elements bluntly put the Churchian MAFIA. Jesus Christ never advocated LYING & STEALING. Our jurisprudence , education syllabus take any facet we have always remained their slaves unwittingly furthering their agenda.

ISLAM is certainly NOT the problem. Our differences with muslims can be easily solved.
But churchian mafia is hell bent on annihilating both Hindus & Muslims. And have been using us Hindus. Not many are in quest of GOD.

Churchian mafia is into LAND grabbing & all our resources therein. Most hindus are no less avaricious. Remember what Mitrokhin archives say " The whole country (india who else) was for sale".

India's money generation has been primarily through its torrid film industry. The heavily praised ambanis also finance movies that are downright blasphemous. Their worthless movie 'jeans' starring aishwarya rai ( the colossal nincompoop who said "india's kamasutra is the great legacy of hinduism to this world" giggling very irritatingly throughout in AMERICA....who are anything but stupid)script written by alleged tambram sujatha ( a male this is his pseudonym) the writer cum IITian who died belatedly owing to kidney failure)financed by amrithraj brothers , ambanis & God alone knows who else.

Why I call it punishably blasphemous is something that only a Kaanchi MahaPeriyavar would comprehend instantly.
Not charlatans like art of living cultists to ammachis.
Indian establishment does not care ; does not know anything save basking in reflected glory of Vedic Heritage to thumb its nose at AMERICA.

MUSLIMS command my respect as they are far more knowledgeable & do CARE. Hence gave the most befitting well deserved slap to another scoundrel of kollybollywood kamalhassan who has ALWAYS been an evangelical spokesperson brazenly riding roughshod over Hinduism & Vedas.

Another actor called vijay is also a converted christian CRYPTO christian is more appropriate. He was almost going to join bjp party. Much earlier in his movies (worthless crappy pelvic thrusts filled TEDIUM wrongly called a movie) was routinely shooting inside Holy Temples of Hindus and / or erecting a replica of Temples & standing atop Lord Ssiva's HEAD with
designer phoren sneakers bumping & grinding to smutty songs. Very chummy with prabudevas , akshay kumars , ajay devguns , congress , dmk you name it all are GODDAMNED scoundrels.

Jayalalithaa is the ONLY person in Tamil Nadu who is perspicacious enough to understand but rest are hell bent on disabling her.

britain is the stupidest SELFISH country. Cried booohooo blaming ISLAM & Shia Muslims for their Rituals during Moharram. But when one of their own british very rich newspaper magnate ( or call what you will) was caught on camera with more than TWELVE women prostitutes in a sado-masochistic orgy , the british judge acquitted him calling it "individual liberty". It is british who decide one lashing is (sic) "barbaric aiyo aiyo" (that is observed ONLY ONCE & not done stealthily) & other sado masochistic orgies are "individual right..democtaceeee". This is EXACTLY who we are following with awe. Our rotten constitution to every aspect of governance.
Janakiraman Rajalakshmi
7 years ago
There is another very strong reason we do NOT need so many airlines & so many aircrafts in our country. So what if petrol aviation fuel all become very cheap & available in plenty??

It is holier than thou India that has the largest abattoir in entire Asia within. And several abattoirs. No wonder vultures that have become almost extinct hover around. And often it is these BIRDS that get killed but idiots scream "aircraft damaged by bird hit". This is the IDIOTIC legacy we have embraced as we blindly copy whatever the foreigner says.

Everything is always interconnected. Having too many ministers handling too many portfolios BLIGHTS this synergy.

Flora & Fauna are too precious.
Not useless people & their 'vikas'.
Janakiraman Rajalakshmi
7 years ago
BJP party that talked big about rooting out corruption dictating banks to offer more loans to maran brothers to "help" them is as ridiculous as pk story from bollywood cretins.

Whatever happened to "Piercing The Corporate Veil" doctrine?

Everyone knows dmk & maran brothers are the custodians of kollywood film industry. Give it any name kolly & bollywood film industry has had the most deleterious impact on us.

When congress party ruthlessly tried imposing hindi on Tamil speaking people of Tamil Nadu many who resisted were shot to death.The politicians who instigate them never die. Thus dmk could always claim as (sic)"saviours of Tamil language". That is out & out mendacious. bollywood's rajkapoor found this a lucrative opportunity to screen his movies ( we all know sex is secular & needs no scintillating thought provoking dialogues that can be couched only via befitting language)with certain south indian actresses. Thus politicians achieved what they wanted..hindi became acceptable.

Little did we realize erosion of values among us in the name of 'art'.

Today if hindus are incensed at pk of bollywood they have themselves to blame who have been tolerating all kinds of licentiousness all these years.

kiron kher who has joined bjp
before joining politics was hosting some tv show that outraged few pious Hindus but nobody cared. She was regularly asking questions that no Hindu Aacharya would ever approve of.
It became so popular revathy, erroneously considered kosher (like say Waheeda Rehman who is really kosher)another actress did a similar version in Tamil Nadu tv channels. Adults & children were watching everything together. Now why protest belatedly over alleged rapes & abuses?? And "insult to hinduism" ??

BJP has let in hemamalinis , kiron khers citing congress that has never been known for scruples. No wonder many find bjp is almost similar to congress.
7 years ago
I agree and disagree with one point each made by the author. Agreed that a private airline should not be bailed out by the government - the aviation ministry should not have suggested so - good that banks and omcs chose to ignore the ill-advice. However, the author's view that the promoters should be asked to bail out the airline is also incorrect. The basics of a capitalist system dictate the liability of the promoter is limited to its equity capital in the company. It should not extend to his personal wealth. As far as airline employees are concerned, they are not marginal/minimum-wage workers requiring government protection. They can leave the airline if they feel it is unable to pay them - many of them have already taken that decision recently.
7 years ago
I agree and disagree with one point each in the above article. Agreed that their should not be any bailout of a private airline - the aviation ministry erred in sending such signals. The good news is does not look like the other arms of the government (banks, omcs) have paid any heed to the aviation ministry. However, it is wrong on part of the author to then suggest that the promoter should bail out the airline. The basics of a capitalist system say that the promoters' liability is limited to their equity contribution in the airline. There personal wealth cannot (and should not) be put on the line. As far as airline employees are concerned, I am sure the author is aware of their outsized salaries. They are not marginal/minimum-wage workers that need protection from the government - they can leave if they feel the airline is not in a position to pay them - in fact, media reports indicate many have taken this option.
7 years ago
This Government will talk of Good Governance but things continue to be the same and even worse in some cases.This Government has slashed Health budget by a whopping 20%. We the pensioners in CGHS are already feeling the pain in cases where we were treated by some private hospitals which are removed by CGHS now like Narayana Health of Dr.Shetty.
One has to know the right people in DELHI durbar and one can continue to be corrupt damn the CBI like the Big fat cats like Mallayya, Maran brothers and ofcourse Adani group which has acquired Coal mines in Australia with wink of Finance Ministry to the tune of $ 1 billion from nationalised banks.
Here is a fellow who did not know how to run the Airline and he must be punished by taking his personal assets and handing over the airline operations to Indigo management. It is good thing that fuel operators have stopped the fuel while Airport management continue to give gratis to Spicejet. The Big fat cats continue to run this Government also.
Dr Anantha K Ramdas
7 years ago
Thanks for the wonderful article on SpiceJet, Ms Dalal.

It should be: survival of the fittest! Ajay Singh, a former promoter may try a "come back" to rescue this ailing airline. Why should he? Marans have enough money in the kitty. If they want to keep their flag flying, let them pump in the cash required, considering their worth, as stated in the article. By making offers at lower than cost price, it sounds obvious the money was used to pay up the current dues, until a new scheme was put up to meet the next months' bill!

It is wrong for Government to come and offer any rescue package. If anything, all those ticket holders who have been left in the lurch be given substitute flights on Air India, which is Govt owned!
7 years ago
There is INTIMACY but no one with LIKE Us,(To be issued a ‘CERTIFIDE’ copy of the ‘STAY’ or any kind of ‘ORDER’ as to define stay ‘The State Government’s final order- No. RVA 2702/CR-208/15-C, Date-25/08/2003 affecting ‘THE RIGHT TO SHELTER’ of 315 families, said order issued against the WP- 4481/2001 and the same is disrespected with the filling of this newer WP- 8508/2003 by the MC of ‘Shri Ganesh Co-Operative Housing Society’ of Nerul V/S ‘Government of Maharashtra’ can be classified as a CONTEMPT to this Honorable HC / Mumbai)

If there is ‘NO SUCH ORDER’ Please send a written reply immediately, so we 315 families can reassure to the competent authorities and get said order be implemented from Joint Registrars / CBD and officials of ‘C.I.D.C.O.’
7 years ago
Brilliant . I do hope that this so called development oriented and people friendly government will answer all the very pertinence questions raised.
Shivram Ramakrishnan
7 years ago
Shareholders.. Speculators would be more appropriate. The company has been making losses for the last 3 years. A glance at the balance sheet makes it obvious the company has been living on borrowed money. Why invest in such companies? My heart goes out to the employees though. They are the most affected.
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