×

IndiGo's dividend payouts leave some investors grounded

An Airbus SAS A320 aircraft operated by IndiGo approaches to land at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai, India.
Dhiraj Singh | Bloomberg | Getty Images
An Airbus SAS A320 aircraft operated by IndiGo approaches to land at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai, India.

When the operator of India's largest airline IndiGo set in motion its long-awaited initial public offering (IPO), it likely thought investors would focus on its ability to churn out profits in a market in which many rivals have stumbled.

Instead, much of the attention has turned to the rather hefty dividends that have been paid out to promoters in recent years.

The near $500 million flotation from InterGlobe Aviation - IndiGo's parent company - shows that it had a negative net worth of 1.39 billion rupees ($21.41 million) as of June 30, while profits in the June quarter stood at 6.4 billion rupees.

That's a bit surprising for a company that has consistently cranked out profits. The likely reason behind the negative net worth is the sharp increase in dividends to promoters.

InterGlobe declared an interim dividend of 10.03 billion rupees in the financial year though March 2016 and 10.80 billion rupees in the financial year through March 2015. The dividend in the financial year through March 2014 was a more modest 3.8 billion rupees.

To be sure, making large dividends to promoters is not unusual but many investors are irked with the timing and scale of the payout, India's Mint newspaper reported.

An IndiGo spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Read MoreIndiGo reports record profit ahead of IPO: Sources

The dividend payout for the 2015 financial year corresponds to nearly 83 percent of net profits for the year, up from 79.7 percent for 2014, and 70 percent for 2013.

The company noted that if this financial position continues, it may make it more difficult or expensive for it to obtain future financing or meet liquidity needs.

"There can be no assurance that we will be able to achieve a positive net worth in periods going forward," IndiGo said.

The disclosures are unlikely to dim the allure of the share offering, which is one of the largest seen by Indian investors in nearly three years.

A sale last week by Coffee Day Enterprises, which runs India's version of Starbucks, sparked buoyant demand from investors generally starved of top-flight issuers.