Abu Dhabi's Etihad needs to revise Jet Airways deal: chairman

ABU DHABI Sun Feb 17, 2013 3:51am EST

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ABU DHABI (Reuters) - Etihad Airways needs to revise its deal to buy a stake in India's Jet Airways (JET.NS) and it is too soon to say when a final agreement will be struck, the Abu Dhabi airline's chairman told Reuters on Sunday.

Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed al-Nahayan, speaking on the sidelines of a defense exhibition in the UAE capital, said officials would meet Indian Trade Minister Anand Sharma to discuss the deal.

Asked if a Jet deal would be signed by March or April, Sheikh Hamed said: "I don't know ... we need to revise it."

The terms of the possible deal have not been disclosed, but a government source said earlier this month Etihad was in talks to pick up a 24 percent stake in Jet for up to $330 million.

Asked if a Jet deal would be finalized soon, Sheikh Hamed said: "It's too early to decide."

Sheikh Hamed, who is also managing director of sovereign wealth fund Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, did not specify why the deal needs to be revised.

"We need to talk with the Indians about other issues ... including this," he said.

Unlisted Etihad's chief executive said this month the Abu Dhabi carrier was conducting due diligence on making an investment and would present the findings to its board.

The Jet Airways deal would be the first foreign investment in India's aviation industry since the government relaxed ownership rules last September.

This allows foreign airlines to buy up to 49 percent in the country's domestic carriers, many of which are facing stiff competition and high operating costs.

Sheikh Hamed also dismissed talk of the carrier's interest in India's grounded Kingfisher Airlines (KING.NS) as "rumours".

Kingfisher said in December it was in talks with several investors, including Etihad, for a stake sale but those hopes have faded as the indebted airline remains grounded.

(Writing by Amran Abocar; Editing by Paul Tait)

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