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Jet-Etihad deal faces poser

New Delhi, Dec. 12: In another setback to Jet and Etihad, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) has shot off queries to the duo on whether they failed to provide information on certain commercial arrangements relating to Etihad picking up a 24 per cent stake in the Naresh Goyal carrier.

The fair trade regulator had approved the stake purchase by Abu Dhabi-based Etihad last month. However, the CCI has now issued showcause notices to the carriers to ascertain whether they had not divulged critical information.

The move comes after the deal was challenged in the Competition Appellate Tribunal (Compat) by national carrier Air India’s former executive director Jitendra Bhargava; BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, too, has written to capital market regulator Sebi asking Etihad to be considered a “person acting in concert” with Jet’s current promoters on this deal.

Bhargava’s appeal is yet to be listed for hearing by Compat. CCI chairman Ashok Chawla today said that the two carriers had been issued showcause notices on a separate issue relating to certain commercial agreements.

While clearing the deal last month, the CCI had said the clearance would have no bearing on the proceedings for a possible penal action for non-furnishing of information by the parties.

“The majority has already approved the merger, but on whether some things happened before they filed the application, which could be a possible area for penalty being imposed, that we have issued a showcause notice,” Chawla said.

The notice was sent to Jet and Etihad a few days back, and one hearing by the CCI has already taken place.

“We have heard the parties. A decision will be taken by the commission on whether those aspects on which there were commercial agreements before they came to the commission whether those were integral parts of the proposal which should have come to the commission or not,” he said.

According to an official of the commission, seeking explanation from the carriers may not have an impact on the clearance to the deal.

Bhargava has filed an appeal against the CCI approval, saying the proposed combination will have adverse effect on competition in India.

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