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DRB-Hicom dan Tabung Haji untuk Air Asia.
By Thomas Soon

21/3/2001 6:59 pm Wed

[DRB-Hicom memang sudah tenat. Dulu ia cukup aktif membolot projek sehingga ramai usahawan lain terpinggir. Pengusaha bas mini adalah alah satu darinya. Bayangkan lorong khas sudah lama diminta oleh pengusaha bas mini tetapi dipersetankan sahaja, tetapi bila intrakota tiba, semuanya bisa diatur. Sekarang tambang bas ini sudah naik tetapi disembunyikan dengan menggunakan sistem zon.

Itu baru kenderaan darat. Kenderaan udara pun lebih kurang juga. Air-Asia kerugian sejak ditubuhkan pada 1996 lagi! Ia mendapat kontrek membawa jemaah haji tapi tak untung-untung juga. Yang menariknya ia mendapat kontrek ini pada tahun 1996 juga...... Inilah tembelangnya.

Sila juga membaca komen menarik khususnya oleh jtham di pangkal rencana ini. Kemudian fikirkan berapa bijikah kapalterbang syarikat Air-Asia ini ada sehingga Tabung Haji mengikat diri kepadanya.... - Editor]

DRB-Hicom in talks with Tabung Haji over sale of Air Asia stake

By Thomas Soon

DRB-Hicom Bhd is believed to be actively seeking a buyer for its 85 per cent stake in the second national air carrier Air Asia Sdn Bhd, which has been losing money since it began operations about five years ago.

Among those whom DRB-Hicom had held preliminary talks with are Lembaga Tabung Haji, the country's pilgrimage fund for Muslims. Tabung Haji's current funds and assets amount to more than RM8 billion.

Sources said Tabung Haji could bring in potential partners for capital injection into Air Asia to expand its fleet of aircraft.

'It is a case of DRB-Hicom's willingness to let go of its stake for a good price, while many other parties are also interested in acquiring an airline business,' said one observer.

It is learnt that DRB-Hicom had also approached other potential buyers, including the Sarawak Economic Development Corporation, Angsana Vacation Sdn Bhd, and Lufthansa Air, through a local company.

'Tabung Haji is very keen to have a stake in Air Asia,' a source tells . Tabung Haji has been using Air Asia's carriers to bring pilgrims on the Haj and Umrah trips for the past five years. This year alone, Air Asia will be arranging 96 return flights for Mecca pilgrims.

When contacted, company spokesman said any suggestion of talks between DRB-Hicom and the various parties were 'purely speculative' in nature. 'However, we are not averse to any proposals,' he said.

Air Asia has a five-year renewable lease from a US-based company for two Boeing 737-300 aircraft, for which DRB-Hicom acts as guarantor. It is learnt that Air Asia is paying about US$300,000 (RM1.14 million) per month for the lease of each aircraft.

Sources said previous talks with a few parties for the disposal of the stake had failed because the lessor had rejected the transfer of the guarantee to the potential new owners, who did not meet its risk test.

An analyst said 'it might do DRB-Hicom good' if it can offload the airline business, which does not fit well into the rest of their businesses. 'DRB-Hicom's direction is into automotive and property (and services),' he said.

He added that it was not viable for Air Asia to operate on the strength of two leased aircraft and that it would need to expand its fleet size. The analyst said the authorities should allow Air Asia to take over some of Malaysian Airlines' domestic routes, particularly between West and East Malaysia.

Until the economic crisis, the Kuala Lumpur-based Air Asia operated scheduled international flights to destinations that included two Taiwanese cities and Jakarta. Now, it makes scheduled domestic flights to Kota Kinabalu, Labuan, Kuching and Langkawi and chartered flights.

For the last two years, DRB-Hicom has been on the lookout for a taker of a substantial portion of its stake. Mofaz Air holds the remaining 15 per cent equity interest. The carrier has been losing money since it started operations in 1996.

Comments To This Article:

Not Tabung Haji Also!!! (rmbart, 20/03/2001)

Malaysia is such a small country and yet we have more than 1 airlines. If the load, lease and fuel factors are the main cause for the losses, whoever takes over will not be able to make profit. We should take the brave face of closing down one of the airlines or merge it with MAS at a discount...PERIOD.

Another rubbish deal... (jtham, 20/03/2001)

DRB-Hicom has been transforming itself from a patriotic company during Tan Sri Yahya's time to a more sober corporate animal in recent times. Suddenly, it seems DRB will be focusing on regaining its profit foothold by offloading its non-performing assets. And guess who in the market will buy those lousy assests from DRB ?From its stake in Proton to Puspakom, Intrakota and now AirAsia, everything that were previously proud national projects but had failed miserably are now being hawked to the usual cash rich quasi government funds. Selling an underperforming asset to a synergistic party may be a logical thing to do to revive the assets. But I don't see what benefit it is to sell those assets to a fund, especially a public fund which offers no operational or management expertise, neither does it offer any synergies for future growth. And these are precisely the deals we are witnessing in the market, Proton to Petronas, MAS to Khazanah, Star & Putra to Khazanah, TimeDotCom to KWAP, Khazanah & EPF, Puspakom/Intrakota to government......etc.

And it is so damm blatant that in good times, all good opportunities are privatised to individual well connected businessman depriving those opportunities from the public funds. But in bad times, all failed projects are nationalised at the expense of the tax payers. If such poor corporate governance are to continue, bid farewell to the stock market.

Another Bailout ! (TanSri, 19/03/2001)

Go ahead Tabung Haji, bail out DRB-Hicom. I just love Malaysia corporate scene with a touch of politics. Everything is so predictable. Good luck.