IndiGo budget airline co-founder asks regulator to step in to resolve grievances

Former US Airways CEO Rakesh Gangwal and former airline sales agent Rahul Bhatia created IndiGo, which quickly outpaced its rivals to grab almost half of the Indian market.
Former US Airways CEO Rakesh Gangwal and former airline sales agent Rahul Bhatia created IndiGo, which quickly outpaced its rivals to grab almost half of the Indian market.PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW DELHI (BLOOMBERG) - Rakesh Gangwal, the billionaire co-founder of Indian budget carrier IndiGo, has sought "regulatory intervention" from the country's securities regulator to resolve his "alleged grievances".

The board of InterGlobe Aviation Ltd, which operates IndiGo, has received a letter dated July 8 from Gangwal, informing the company that he has sought help from the Securities and Exchange Board of India, according a stock exchange filing by the airline on Tuesday (July 9). The filing didn't elaborate on the grievances. Sebi has asked the company to respond to the letter by July 19, with which IndiGo will comply, it said.

A spokesman for IndiGo, India's biggest airline, declined to comment beyond the stock exchange statement.

Gangwal and Rahul Bhatia, who co-founded IndiGo in 2005, have differences over related-party transactions, chief executive officer Ronojoy Dutta told CNBC-TV18 last month. The founders were in talks over issues including paying rent for the airline's headquarters owned by Bhatia's InterGlobe Enterprises Ltd, and crew staying at hotels where InterGlobe Enterprises has a stake, Dutta said. Gangwal has previously said he has no desire to take control of the biggest budget airline in Asia by market value.

Former US Airways CEO Gangwal and former airline sales agent Bhatia created IndiGo, which quickly outpaced its rivals to grab almost half of the local market, making both billionaires. IndiGo is one of the few Indian carriers with enough cash to aggressively expand, and it's been mapping out a way to build a long-haul, low-cost business to take passengers from places like New Delhi to London.