Major share swap to help save Malaysian Airlines


KUALA LUMPUR — Southeast Asia’s largest budget airline AirAsia looks set for a major share swap with Malaysian Airlines in a deal to help save the struggling national flag carrier, reports said yesterday.

The agreement could see Malaysia-based AirAsia’s owner gain 20 per cent of the equity in its loss-making rival, the Star and New Straits Times dailies reported.

The papers, quoting unnamed sources, said that a partnership deal between the long-time rivals could be signed within days.

“It’s a done deal, and it would mean that we could compete better,” the Times quoted a source close to the deal as saying.

Malaysia Airlines declined to comment, saying that “this is a shareholder matter.”

A spokesman for Khazanah Nasional Bhd, which owns about 70 per cent of the national flag carrier, also declined to comment, saying it was company policy not to comment on “speculation.”

The Star reported the deal negotiated over the past year was struck last week to save the struggling national carrier.

Under the deal, Khazanah would get a stake in AirAsia, while Tune Air Sdn Bhd, which owns 26 per cent of AirAsia, would get a stake in Malaysia Airlines. Tune Air is helmed by Malaysian tycoon and AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes and another partner.