AirAsia Aims to Seal Deal for Leasing Arm by March

By Yantoultra NguiFeaturesDow Jones Newswires

SEPANG, Malaysia--Malaysia's AirAsia Bhd. (5099.KU), Asia's largest budget airline by passenger volume, hopes to seal a deal for its leasing arm, Asia Aviation Capital Ltd., by March next year, group Chief Executive Tony Fernandes said Wednesday.

Mr. Fernandes said the bidding process is in the final stages, but didn't disclose the bidders. "I hope it will be completed within this financial year [March 2018]," he told reporters after announcing a slew of senior leadership changes as part of its growth strategy. "I'm optimistic."

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Asia Aviation Capital, which people familiar with the matter earlier this year said could be valued at some $1 billion, has been on the block since 2016. Equity analysts that cover AirAsia have said the sale could result in special dividends for shareholders.

Mr. Fernandes announced on Wednesday that the current CEO of AirAsia Malaysia, Aireen Omar, will be promoted to group deputy CEO of digital, transformation and corporate services, effective Jan. 10.

She will lead nonairline units, such as loyalty program BIG Loyalty, all of which the airline also plans to monetize in the future, Mr. Fernandes said.

Riad Asmat will succeed Ms. Aireen as CEO of AirAsia Malaysia, effective Jan. 10, Mr. Fernandes said.

He also announced the appointment of Capt. Adrian Jenkins, current group director of flight operations, as COO. He will be in charge of ground operations.

Rozman Omar, current deputy group CEO of strategy and mergers and acquisition, will be appointed executive director of AirAsia International Ltd., a holding company of all AirAsia group investments in its overseas joint ventures.

Mr. Rozman will be responsible for the consolidation of AirAsia's units in Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia under one listed holding company, to be called One AirAsia, Mr. Fernandes said.

Write to Yantoultra Ngui at

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 13, 2017 04:44 ET (09:44 GMT)