Tony Fernandes prepares AirAsia’s New York listing

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Tony Fernandes’ Capital A group is planning New York registrations for its low-cost airline AirAsia and a digital “super app”.

“If you want to be an actor, you probably want to end up in Hollywood at some point in your career,” Fernandes told the Financial Times. “We believe the time has come for part of the Capital A group to be listed in the United States.”

He said the group, which changed its name earlier this year, had begun compliance work and was considering two separate listings, one for AirAsia “sometime next year”, followed by the so-called saying great app, which will offer services ranging from travel to takeaway.

The company, which previously considered merging its digital business with a special-purpose acquisition company, crashed into the red during the pandemic, prompting EY in July 2020 to question its ability to survive.

Fernandes, who turned to e-commerce and digital businesses during the pandemic, said the problem was now solved.

While Capital A’s shares remain below the convenient rating of 17 on the Malaysian stock exchange – a listing for financially distressed groups – Fernandes insisted it was a solvable “accounting” issue, which ” does not reflect the fundamentals of the company”.

The airline’s first-quarter losses have widened 90% from the same period in 2021, while the group’s Malaysia-listed shares remain one-sixth off their 2018 peak.

Fernandes, chief executive of Capital A, said 85 of AirAsia’s 212 planes were now flying, with load factors of 80-90%, and 176 planes back in the skies in December.

“I think in the third and fourth quarters we would be positive for Ebitda, including leasing, etc. . . I’m quite confident that 2023 will be profitable and cash flow will definitely be positive,” he said. -he declares.

Last year, South Korean conglomerate SK invested $100 million in the group’s BigPay fintech business.

Commenting on the listing plans, Fernandes said his success in transforming from Warner Music executive to low-budget aviation pioneer after buying AirAsia from the Malaysian government in 2001 for less than $1, would ultimately influence Investors.

“Twenty years ago, when I started this airline, no investor wanted to invest in us. It wasn’t a very compelling story to say you’re going to start an airline while you’re in the music business, with no money, and go up against Malaysia Airlines, Singapore Airlines and others,” he said. .

“Twenty years later, I now say I’m going to tackle these digital unicorns. Probably not a compelling story either of an airline that is struggling, going through Covid, having a fragile balance sheet, etc. But it comes slowly.

Fernandes also said he saw the 100 super-fast, drone-like electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) air taxis the group leases from Irish company Avolon, reinforcing the positive trend. Avolon hopes eVTOLs will gain regulatory clearance by 2025.

Fernandes ignored the idea that he was overworking himself, while Dómhnal Slattery, chief executive of Avolon, quoted aviation pioneer Wilbur Wright: “Eagles don’t soar in calm,” he said. declared. “They need the wind against them.”

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