Blackstone may buy stake in India’s Jet Airways loyalty arm: Bloomberg

(Reuters) – U.S. private equity firm Blackstone Group LP (BX.N) is in talks to acquire a stake in the frequent-flier loyalty program of Jet Airways (India) Ltd (JET.NS), Bloomberg reported on Wednesday, citing people familiar with the matter.

A potential deal could value the loyalty program, Jet Privilege Private Ltd, between 30 billion rupees and 40 billion rupees ($429.1 million-$572.1 million) and would be dependant on Jet Airways securing adequate funding for its airline operations, Bloomberg said.

The Indian carrier and its partner Etihad Airways will remain investors in Jet Privilege even after a potential Blackstone transaction, Bloomberg said.

Etihad owns 50.1 percent of the loyalty program, while Jet Airways owns the rest.

“As a minority shareholder (in Jet Airways), Etihad continues to work constructively with the Jet Airways board, promoter and management team,” an Etihad spokesman said in an emailed statement.

Earlier this week, Jet said it was considering various options on priority to meet its funding requirements but called media reports on stake sale or plans to monetize its investment in its frequent flier program as “purely speculative”.

The airline has also deferred its quarterly earnings report.

Blackstone was not immediately reachable for comment, while Jet Airways was unavailable for comment on account of a public holiday.

Jet Airways, along with Etihad, has embarked upon a reorganization of its JetPrivilege program to establish the unit as an independent loyalty and rewards company with a mandate to own and manage the operations of the loyalty program independently, according to Jet Airways website.