Reported by Reuters, and covered locally by The Edge over the weekend, Golden Skies Ventures (GSV), a privately held firm, has secured backing from European banks and has submitted a bid of US$2.5 billion (RM10.875 billion) to fully take over the holding company of Malaysia’s flag carrier, an airline which has been struggling for many years.
GSV actually submitted the bid roughly a month ago, as airlines around the world began suffering from the fallout of travel restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic.
“(We have secured) in excess of US$2.5 billion from the bank. We will take about three to four months to get the long-term financing,” GSV’s CEO Shahril Lamin told Reuters in a phone interview.
Additionally, GSV also has also secured a commitment from a Japanese private equity firm, a deal which would inject immediate funds into the aviation group through an equity deal.
Separately, GSV stated that, if the bid were to be accepted, they would not lay off staff from the airline’s 13,000-strong frontline staff, nor “asset-strip” the airline.
According to reports, the GSV proposal includes keeping the government’s so-called “golden share” of the holding company, which allows it majority voting rights. The proposal also maintains the flag carrier status of Malaysia Airlines.
GSV has stated that it expects to have initial liquidity that is more than sufficient to keep Malaysia Airlines operating comfortably for up to 18 months. The firm, as stated in its proposal, intends to reinstate Malaysia Airlines as a premium long-haul airline, chiefly by re-expanding its flight network and through improved utilisation and deployment of its 81-plane fleet. The proposal further outlines GSV’s plans to keep other business units such as subsidiary airlines (presumably Firefly and MASWings), cargo freight division, and the maintenance, repair, and overhaul unit.
The firm aims to achieve positive earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation within three years of taking over, and has declared an annual revenue target of RM15 billion for 2025.
In a follow-up, Khazanah Nasional Bhd, the sovereign wealth fund which fully owns Malaysia Airlines, indicated it was initially unsure about the bid, as the source of the funding had not been confirmed or verified. Khazanah also noted that GSV was wholly reliant on capital from third parties, and indeed appeared to have little to none of its own.
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