India’s private-sector carrier Kingfisher Airlines on Friday approved raising up to 20 billion rupees ($432.7 million) through a rights issue of shares in an effort to trim its huge debt. The company, backed by chairman and liquor baron Vijay Mallya, has not given any time-frame or details of the proposed issue.
The airline, which had reported a net loss of 2.6 billion rupees in the April-June quarter, has been trying to raise funds through a global depository receipts (GDR) issue of $250-$350 million for quite some time now.
In a filing to the Bombay Stock Exchange on Aug. 26, Kingfisher said its board of directors has approved the “issue of equity capital on rights basis (for) an amount not exceeding 20 billion rupees.”
The company’s latest move is part of the airline’s debt restructuring plan to bring down the burden significantly. Currently, the airline debt is nearly 60 billion rupees. It also owes 2 billion rupees to the Airport Authority of India (AAI), India’s Civil Aviation Minister Vyalar Ravi said in Parliament on Thursday. He said Kingfisher Airlines, along with Paramount Airways, do not settle dues on a regular basis, and the money exceeds bank guarantees available to AAI.
Earlier this year, the carrier slashed its debt through a debt restructuring process in which the airline issued 116.3 million shares to a consortium of 13 banks led by State Bank of India, after conversion of compulsory convertible preference shares at 64.48 rupees a share.
The airline had restructured its debt by converting almost 12 billion rupees of loans into equity. On Friday, the board also modified the terms and conditions for the issue of optionally convertible debentures that were issued on Jan. 3, the airline said.
The company issued about 7 billion rupees of optionally convertible debentures to certain entities in January. An investor has the option to convert these debentures into shares at a price set by the issuer.
Mounting fuel prices have been severely impacting airlines across the globe. Competition does not allow airlines to increase the fares in line with the rising fuel prices and even low-cost carriers have reported losses during the first quarter of this fiscal year, ending March 31, 2012.
Kingfisher’s bigger rival,, also has plans to raise $400 million through a share issue to institutional investors, but hasn’t been able to do so because of rules that cap foreign holdings.