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Post-merger integration plans for Eastar Jet come into focus Potential buyers likely to put efforts to receive AOC and bring in aircrafts

Translated by Kim So-in 공개 2021-06-04 08:28:33

이 기사는 2021년 06월 04일 07:58 더벨 유료페이지에 표출된 기사입니다.

Post-merger integration (PMI) plans for Eastar Jet is drawing attention as the sale of the financially-troubled budget carrier has finally attracted positive response from potential buyers.

The Seoul bankruptcy court will hold the final round of bidding for Eastar Jet on June 14, according to sources. Easter Jet, currently under a court-led rehabilitation scheme, entered into a stalking deal with an unknown mid-sized company and has received letters of intent from other bidders, including Harim Group, Ssang Bang Wool Group, and private equity (PE) firms.

Market insiders are paying attention to how strongly prospective buyers want to acquire the carrier. Their bids are non-binding at this stage and they have to outbid the bidding price set by the stalking-horse bidder.

Market watchers expect the success of the sale to depend on the price offered by Harim Group, which is seeking to acquire the budget carrier through its bulk carrier Pan Ocean. It is essential for potential buyers to have fundraising capability to outbid the contract price with the stalking-horse bidder, and Harim Group has the strongest fundraising capability among prospective buyers, they said.

“The success or failure of this sale will depend on how much Harim Group or PE firms offer,” said an industry source. “It is the most important for (the seller) to find a potential buyer which will invest a large amount of new capital as the carrier will need more than tens of billions of won to add routes and recover relationships with its partners.”

A potential buyer which wins the final round of bidding also must have a strategy to enhance Eastar Jet's enterprise value. The vaccination program may curb the spread of Covid-19, leading to a surge in demand for short-haul travel, but the budget carrier's rivals that have maintained their existing routes and aircrafts are likely to be better positioned to benefit from the situation.

Potential buyers are expected to immediately seek to receive an air operator certificate (AOC) and bring in aircrafts. In order to normalize operations of the Gimpo-Jeju route, Eastar Jet needs to take back its AOC.

Eastar Jet currently has four Boeing 737-800 aircrafts, which is too small for potential buyers to carry out their PMI plans.

“It takes at least 1~2 months to lease aircrafts as the budget carrier needs to consult with foreign financial companies and register aircrafts,” an industry source said. “It will be difficult for any prospective buyer to avoid the J-curve until the operations are normalized.”

Some market insiders noted the country’s budget air industry has to be reshaped first for potential buyers to pursue their plans. Potential buyers may inject new capital into Eastar Jet and try to take over other budget carriers later using Eastar Jet’s cash equivalents, they said. (Reporting by Ar-rum Rho)
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