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BW Businessworld

Naresh Goyal Bows Out Of Jet Airways

Naresh Goyal bows out of Jet; Tejas spreads its wings; Citroen to call on India; and more

Photo Credit : Umesh Goswami

The inevitable has happened. Jet Airways founders Naresh Goyal and his wife, Anita Goyal, have stepped down from the board of the company, after struggling to keep the airline viable for months. Their decision fulfills a demand put forth by the airline’s investors. Goyal now ceases to be the chairman of Jet Airways, an airline he founded 25 years ago.

Goyal and his wife consenting to exit from Jet Airways was a kind of a quid pro quo for further fund infusion into the debt-ridden carrier. In a hurriedly convened meeting on March 25 the Jet Airways board approved  conversion of the outstanding debt of the company into equity shares for the lenders. Investors will immediately infuse up to Rs 1,500 crore into the company so the airline may stay afloat.

The airline’s lenders led by State Bank of India will moreover constitute an interim management committee to monitor the daily cash flow and operations of  the airline on the basis of  instructions communicated by the lenders. Jet owes various lenders over $1 billion in debt. It has delayed payments to banks, suppliers, pilots and lessors. Over a third of its fleet are parked on runways.

Competitor SpiceJet, founded and promoted by Ajay Singh, described Goyal’s exit from Jet Airways as “a sad day for Indian aviation”. Singh said, “This is a wake-up call for Indian policy makers. We urgently need to address structural challenges…” Is anyone listening?    
— Ashish Sinha

Xiaomi makes in India
Chinese handset maker Xiaomi has demonstrated its commitment to the Make in India initiative by announcing plans for another manufacturing plant, this time in Tamil Nadu. The plant, which will be its seventh manufacturing unit in the country, was launched in partnership with Flex. With the new plant, Xiaomi will have a combined manufacturing capacity of up to three smartphones per second during operating hours.  Xiaomi has also launched Redmi Go, its first Android Go phone  and its most affordable smartphone for India at a price tag of Rs 4,999.    
— Avishek Banerjee

Tejas spreads its wings beyond borders
India’s home-grown light combat aircraft (LCA) Tejas took part in an aerial display for the first time at the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition (LIMA) in Malaysia. The show began on 26 March.

The fighter jet, developed indigenously, was showcased soon after an RFI (request for information) by the Malaysian government for light combat aircraft. The Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) is looking for 12 such fighter aircraft and is likely to add on more in the future. Tejas faces competition from the South Korean FA-50 Golden Eagle and the China – Pakistan collaboration, the JF-17 Thunder. Both the FA-50 Golden Eagle and the Tejas use the General Electric F-404 engine, which is more reliable and easier to service than the Russian-built Klimov RD -33 used in JF-17 Thunder.

The Tejas is made of the highest-grade composite material.Modern combat aircraft are all about avionics and seamless mission compute. The Tejas is more advanced, as its avionics is laced with microprocessor-based utility controls and enhanced systems like fuel controlled by computers. While the Tejas may prove to be a major contender for an international bid, on home ground its problems with the Indian Air Force (IAF) persist. It is high time that the IAF put its full force behind the home-bred fighter jet.  
—  Manish Kumar Jha 

Citroen to call on India 
French car manufacturer, the PSA Groupe, has announced plans of launching the ‘Citroen’ brand in India. The model is expected to hit the Indian roads by the end of 2021. Carlos Tavares, Chairman of the PSA Groupe’s  managing board, has confirmed the group’s plan to conquer new markets and announced that the Citroën brand has been chosen to enter the Indian market.

“Citroen will be back to India no later than 2021,” he said. It may be recalled that in 2017, the PSA Groupe had entered into a partnership with the CK Birla Group to re-enter the Indian market with its vehicle and powertrain manufacturing unit in Tamil Nadu.“We are very proud to launch Citroen in India, one of the fastest growing markets in the world,” said  Citroen CEO Linda Jackson.  
— Avishek Banerjee

Italy succumbs to the silk trail

Italy has finally succumbed to the lure of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Italy becomes the first EU member to sign the agreement even as the debate on the BRI rages on among EU members. The pact is significant for China, as Italy is a member of the Group of Seven (G7), a founding member of the European Union, and the Eurozone’s third-largest economy. Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte confirmed the MoU on 15 March and signed it on 23 March. He said that China’s massive transnational infrastructure investment scheme under BRI will open the gateway for Italy’s goods and revive the sluggish economy.

Meanwhile, the US National Security Council warned that the unilateral move could legitimise China’s “predatory approach to investment” while yielding “no benefits to the Italian people.” China’s BRI invokes the Silk Route and is President Xi Jinping’s idea of sustaining next generation growth through the network of disparate infrastructure projects. The US, though, sees a greater design to reclaim glory in the garb of the BRI investments.  
—  Manish Kumar Jha

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