Philippines AirAsia eyes IPO before end of 2018

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AIRASIA Group CEO Tony Fernandes is hopeful the Philippine unit can conduct its initial public offering within the year. — DENISE A. VALDEZ

By Denise A. Valdez

PHILIPPINES AirAsia, Inc. is targeting to conduct its long-awaited initial public offering (IPO) before the end of 2018.

In an interview with reporters in Clark, Pampanga on Thursday, AirAsia Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Anthony Francis “Tony” Fernandes said the low-cost Philippine carrier still needs to secure clearance from its board to wipe out its negative equity, as well as resolve issues with the Philippine Stock Exchange.

“We have a board meeting on May 25, and we are in the process of going through the regulatory issues with PSE. We need some clearances from the board to wipe out our native equity. So hopefully we can announce something in the next month or so, as to precise timing,” he said.

AirAsia Philippines initially scheduled to launch its IPO in 2016, postponing it several times.

Mr. Fernandes said the company is now looking to raise more than the $250 million it had initially projected for its IPO.

“We’re doing very well in the Philippines right now… We had a baptism of fire when we came in here. We weren’t warmly welcomed by our competitors. They did everything to eradicate us. And now we’ve crossed over that. That made us tougher, smarter, and we’re now in a good position. Philippines is probably the best kept secret. There’s so much to see, so many places to go. But the connectivity is poor. So what we’re trying to do is build more connectivity,” the AirAsia CEO said.

Mr. Fernandes said the Philippines is the last of its ASEAN units to be listed, including Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.

Once all its Southeast Asian operators are listed, Mr. Fernandes said he intends to form one holding company for the AirAsia Group, allowing it to become one economic unit in the ASEAN.

“Now AirAsia Group owns 100% of Malaysia, 40% of Philippines, 49% of Indonesia, 45% of Thailand. Eventually, I hope we can swap those shares into one company. So let’s say the 60% owned by Filipinos would be able to go up to AirAsia Group. So they wouldn’t just have a share of Philippines, they would have a share of the whole airline. That’s the idea,” he said.