India’s Kingfisher Airlines In Talks with PE Firms

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India’s Kingfisher Airlines Ltd (KING.BO) said it is close to securing $400 million from private equity investors, as the cash-strapped carrier tries to cut its debt and interest burden.

Chairman Vijay Mallya also said on Monday the airline would complete a $100 million rights issue and a $100 million global depositary rights issue by the end of the fiscal year next March.

“I would certainly use a large part of that to reduce debt,” Vijay Mallya told reporters at the World Economic Forum. “Majorly into debt, to save the interest, so it is swapping debt for equity.”

Falling traffic and high jet-fuel prices have pushed Kingfisher into the red and forced it to scramble for funds. It has lost close to 6.6 billion rupees ($142 million) in the first half of 2009/10, after losing 16.09 billion rupees in the previous fiscal year.

The rights issue and the GDR issue were approved earlier this year. ($1=46.5 rupees) (Reporting by Rajesh Kumar Singh and C.J. Kuncheria; Editing by John Mair)