Qatar Airways on Thursday said that the airline is keen to buy stake in IndiGo but this is not the right time for a deal as the Indian carrier is grappling with internal issues. Qatar Airways also added that it is no longer interested in buying a stake in India's national carrier Air India.
"We are always keen to buy stake in successful airlines whether it is IndiGo or some other airline ... this is not the right time as there is some disagreement between the airline's stakeholders and we will wait for those issues to get resolved before making decision of the future," Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker said.
Al Baker was referring to the dispute between the two promoters of IndiGo, Rahul Bhatia and Rakesh Gangwal, over alleged issues of corporate governance and articles of association.
After a bitter public spat spread over nearly three months, the two promoters of IndiGo are now settling the dispute in London after an arbitration request, dated October 1, was submitted to the London Court of International Arbitration under the shareholders' agreement dated April 23, 2015.
While Bhatia and his group InterGlobe Enterprises Private Limited are claimants, Rakesh Gangwal, his wife Shobha Gangwal and their associated entity—the Chinkerpoo Family Trust—and IndiGo have been named as the respondents. Separate litigation has also been filed in Florida by Rahul Bhatia-owned InterGlobe Enterprises to settle the dispute with board member Dr. Anupam Khanna, people aware of the matter said.
As of March 31, the two promoters hold 74.93 percent share, while the rest 25.07 percent is held by the public. Bhatia and his associates hold the highest stake in the company at 38.26 percent, followed by Gangwal and his associates at 36.68 percent.
On Thursday, Qatar Airways and IndiGo indicated that there is a mutual interest in expanding their partnership but both want to take "baby steps." IndiGo also made it clear that the airline has taken a long-term view of this partnership.
"It is a cold dark world out there... We are going in a battle for international and we need to choose friends wisely. IndiGo and Qatar Airways fit together very well..we also share the same strategic thinking, management culture," CEO Dutta said.
Qatar Airways has shown interest in buying Air India in the past. Al Baker also added that the aviation market in India is restrictive and needs to open up as it is necessary for employment opportunities and economic growth.
"There is huge potential for growth between IndiGo
The two also signed a one-way codeshare agreement whereby Qatar Airways will put its code on IndiGo's flights from Doha to Delhi, Mumbai, and Hyderabad.
The agreement is expected to become two-way once IndiGo builds its IT infrastructure to handle the booking and reservation for the codeshare traffic. As of now, it is grappling with the IT system for codeshare with Turkish Airlines.