By Andy Sambidge
Abu Dhabi carrier reportedly closing in on buying 24% stake in India's Jet Airways
Etihad Airways is close to buying a 24 percent stake in India's Jet Airways in a deal worth $400m, it was reported on Saturday.
The possible deal for India’s second largest carrier would give Jet Airways a valuation of around $1.7bn, investment website VCCircle.com said.
Jet Airways shares touched a 52-week high on the bourses on Friday on the stake sale speculation.
“We do not have adequate information at this stage to comment on this issue,” a Jet Airways spokeswoman was quoted as saying.
In October, Etihad, Abu Dhabi's flag carrier which has expanded globally through stake purchases in firms like Air Berlin and Virgin Australia, said it was looking to extend its geographical reach to India and other Asian markets.
James Hogan, the airline's president and CEO, said at the time: "We are very clear that India and Asia represent an opportunity."
Hogan said after its push into Australia with a 10 percent stake in Virgin Australia and Europe with 29.2 percent in Air Berlin and 3 percent in Aer Lingus, the airline will now look for growth in Asia.
In September, Etihad welcomed the Indian government’s allowing foreign airlines to pick up a stake of up to 49 percent in Indian carriers.
Ailing Kingfisher Airlines, SpiceJet and Jet Airways are all said to be on a lookout for strategic investors.
Dubai's Emirates has denied plans to buy a stake in any Indian carrier.
Last month, Etihad reported revenue of $1.3bn in the third quarter, a 19 percent rise year-on-year. Passenger revenue was boosted by code sharing and partnerships - revenues from these two categories jumped 51 percent to $182m.