Jet Airways : Who is Murari Lal Jalan, the ‘mysterious’ buyer ?

New Delhi : The consortium of Kalrock Capital and Murari Lal Jalan won the bid to revive Jet Airways but not much is known about how Jalan made his riches and how he plans to revive the airline.

According to a report in Marketfeed: “According to many in the business world, Murari Lal Jalan is a very mysterious man. There is not much information about how he was able to create all his wealth.”

“He has always kept a very low profile, and is not popular among the business communities in India or abroad. Totally inexperienced in the field, he has confused a lot of people as to how he was able to enter into the airline industry,” it said.

In the 1980s, Jalan started working at his family’s paper trading business in Kolkata. He also worked as a trader for JK Paper and Ballarpur Industries, which were once big paper manufacturing companies.

In 2003, he wanted to expand his paper business, and acquired Kolkata-based Kanoi Paper and Industries. He renamed it Agio Paper, and it currently has a manufacturing facility in Bilaspur (Chattisgarh).

However, in 2010, the paper company faced a lawsuit from government agencies, for pollution-related issues, and its production activities have been suspended since then, as per the report. “So almost his whole career, his focus was on the paper industry and even that did not end well either,” it said.

Jalan then began plans to enter the real estate and healthcare sector.

“In 2015, he approached Dr. Naresh Trehan and Associates Health Services. He went on to acquire a stake in the company for Rs 75 crore, through a secondary share sale transaction. A secondary sale means that Jalan bought-out the shares from an existing stockholder. Around the same time as the acquisition, Dr. Trehan’s Medanta Hospital had plans to establish a hospital in Dubai, with the help of Jalan. Unfortunately, this plan was not implemented,” Marketfeed reported.

Once Jalan moved his base to the UAE, he quickly expanded to sectors such as real estate, mining, fast-moving consumer goods, and construction. He was chairman of the Agio Image group, which sold and distributed photographic and consumer products of well-known companies such as Sony, Panasonic, and Konica.

He also established a real estate development company, MJ Developers. The firm has its headquarters in Dubai, but its main businesses span over countries such as Russia, Brazil, and India. MJ Developers is currently engaged in developing residential and commercial properties in Uzbekistan.

Jalan had partnered with his own family relatives to set up Patanjali India Distribution Ltd. The report says that documents from the Ministry of Corporate Affairs state that this company would be involved in trading, export, distribution, and marketing of milk products and health foods. The list of products also included herbal medicines and ayurvedic cosmetic items.

“Regardless of these claims, the company never opened, and the founders never looked back on it. We do know that Patanjali Ayurved is owned by the yoga guru, Baba Ramdev. However, it is not clear whether the two companies are linked in some way,” the report said.

Some may question as to why there was a sudden need for Jalan to enter into the airline field. Many have suspicions whether this deal would really help the airline to bring back its former glory, the report said.

Jalan, however, said: “Jet Airways is a renowned Indian aviation company with a strong legacy. The aviation sector underwent substantial correction on account of Covid-19 and created an opportune time to enter the sector. Our vision for Jet Airways is to operate the carrier as a full-service airline, both domestic and international.”

But, as per the report: “The point to be noted here is that Jalan has no expertise in this particular sector. However, the management team of Kalrock does have the essential experience from cargo and logistics management through past deals.”

“But now, a major doubt remains to be answered – how was Jalan able to create all this wealth and expand his business to such a large magnitude? We have seen that his initial business in the paper manufacturing industry had failed. Also, when Jalan moved to the UAE, he was not able to contribute effectively towards the implementation of projects in the healthcare sector. He created a company in India that was never launched. Moreover, the fact that most business people don’t know about him, makes everything all the more suspicious. All these facts make us feel very unsure and doubtful about his new deal with Jet Airways,” it said.

Agency

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