AirAsia proposes RM454mil private placement

KUALA LUMPUR: AirAsia Group Bhd is planning to raise as much as RM454.5mil by selling 668.4 million new shares, as budget airline seeks urgently needed funds to strengthen its financial position.

The fund raising plan would not be sufficient to meet its long-term cash flow requirements, AirAsia said, but as an interim measure to address its immediate cash flow requirements.

"Whilst the management of the company continues to explore the available options and/or corporate proposals to improve its financial performance and to address its cash flow position, the company has to undertake the proposed private placement in order to raise funds expeditiously for working capital purposes, as well as marketing expenses and technology expenditure for the initiatives under AirAsia Digital," it said in a filing with Bursa Malaysia today.

The new stocks to be issued will expand the group's share capital by 20% and will be issued in several tranches over the next six months.

The indicative issue price of the placement shares was assumed at 68 sen each, or 9.08% to the five-day volume weighted average market price of AirAsia shares AAGB up to and of 74.79 sen.

Proceeds from the proposed private placement were allocated for fuel hedging settlement (RM146.6mil), aircraft lease and maintenance payments (RM95.2mil), to meet technology development and marketing costs at AirAsia Digital Sdn Bhd and as general working capital purposes (RM135.6mil) to address the immediate and near-term cash flow requirements of the Group.

"In the longer term, all aspects of the Group’s business model will be re-evaluated," AirAsia said.

"The management team will recommend to the Board the optimum size and shape of the Group to meet the air travel needs of its customers while keeping the Group’s financial status at a healthy level and meeting its responsibilities to shareholders. This may involve rationalisation of future planned capacity compared to before the pandemic, taking into account the market outlook and cost structure at that time," it added.

For first nine months of 2020, the number of passengers carried by the Group dropped by 68.7% against a 64.4% decrease in capacity and a 71.7% decrease in revenue passenger kilometres, as compared to the same period in 2019.

"Overall, in line with expected timeline of the vaccinations and the gradual ramp-up in demand for air travel, the Group will continue to exercise its active capacity management strategy and is targeting to operate approximately 65-70% of its 2019 pre-COVID-19 capacity in 2021, with the corresponding ramp-up in its flight schedule to normalcy," AirAsia said.

"It will continue to assess the potential of increasing more flights and adding destinations for its customers in the coming months; however, these plans remain contingent on the further relaxation or tightening of government health measures," it added.

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