* Etihad says expects deal to be endorsed by India
* Etihad CEO Hogan met Jet's Naresh Goyal this weekend
* Deadline for regulatory approval had ended in August
By Praveen Menon
DUBAI, Sept 1 (Reuters) - Etihad Airways expects a $600
million investment in Jet Airways to be cleared by
Indian authorities imminently, as it further extended a deadline
for regulatory approval that ended on Aug 31, the Abu Dhabi
carrier said on Sunday.
Etihad's plan to buy a 24 percent stake in Jet had been
delayed by regulators and by concerns from some politicians an
April bilateral accord on air services between India and the
United Arab Emirates was hurting Indian airlines' interests.
A potential stake purchase would be the first by an overseas
operator in an Indian airline since ownership rules were relaxed
and provides India's largest carrier with a deep-pocketed global
partner as well as cash to pay down debt.
Etihad confirmed that it agreed to extend a deadline for the
deal to win regulatory approvals for a second time until end of
The deadline had been extended by a month in
"The revised agreements are expected to be endorsed by the
Competition Commission of India and the Indian Government
imminently," Etihad said in an emailed statement, its first
comments after the deal hit snags with the Indian authorities.
The Gulf airline said its Chief Executive James Hogan met
Jet chairman Naresh Goyal in Mumbai this weekend to "review
progress on the finalization" of the deal.
"We are working very closely with the Indian Government and
regulatory authorities to ensure we meet all the requirements of
the new foreign direct investment legislation," James Hogan said
in the statement.
The airlines won conditional approval from India's foreign
investment regulator in July but it still needed clearance from
the capital markets regulator and a ministerial investment
Opposition politicians have also objected to the deal on
grounds that the bilateral accord between India and the United
Arab Emirates increasing the number of airline seats per week
favoured Etihad more than Indian carriers.
Indian authorities are yet to say when the deal will be sent
to a cabinet panel for the final approval. Authorities could not
be contacted on Sunday as it is a public holiday.
Etihad agreed to pay $379 million for a 24 percent stake in
Jet in April. It also invested an additional $150 million in
Jet's frequent flyer programme and spent $70 million to buy
Jet's three pairs of Heathrow slots through a sale and leaseback
(Editing by Dinesh Nair and Keiron Henderson)