Qatar Airways said to eye stake in India's SpiceJet

Gulf carrier reportedly in talks to take 24% stake; could invest up to $200m in low cost airline

Qatar Airways is reportedly in talks with SpiceJet to acquire a minority stake in the Indian low cost airline, Indian media have reported.

The two airlines recently signed a non-disclosure agreement but a due diligence is yet to take place, a source familar with the matter said in comments published by local papers.

On Friday, shares in SpiceJet rose by over five percent on the back of the reports.

The source said the talks are in a preliminary stage and focused around Qatar Airways acquiring a 24 percent stake in SpiceJet. 

The Gulf airline may invest $200m in total in both debt and equity in SpiceJet, the source added.

In January, Qatar Airways' CEO Akbar Al Baker rejected claimed he was interested in investing in Indian airlines after SpiceJet shares rose dramatically.

SpiceJet said in a later statement that it was premature to comment on the possibility of selling shares to any investor, but said some interest had been shown after a recent rule change allowing foreign carriers buy stakes in local airlines.

Asked specifically about talks with SpiceJet earlier this week, a Qatar Airways spokesperson told India's Business Standard that the airline did not wish to comment on the issue. 

The reports come on the back of India's cabinet approving a $330m deal by Etihad Airways to buy a stake in Jet Airways.

Etihad had agreed in April to buy a 24 percent stake in Jet in the first such deal since the Indian government relaxed rules in September 2012 to allow foreign airlines to own up to 49 percent of Indian carriers.

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