Stanley Choi: Not ruling out possibility of acquiring more shares in AirAsia


KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama) -- AirAsia Group Bhd’s strength in big data makes it an attractive investment portfolio, despite the challenges the aviation industry is facing now, and there are possibilities to increase the stake in the future, said Dr Stanley Choi Chiu Fai who emerged as a substantial shareholder in the company.

"AirAsia’s growing and diversifying business portfolio based on rich and massive data of customers, accumulated over 19 years in the aviation business makes it attractive as data is the next big thing.

"All businesses have to change and keep improving. With today's increasing digital audience, the role of technology in business strategy must keep pace with its growth. AirAsia has already done a lot before the pandemic and keeps doing well, making it attractive for investment,” he told Bernama.

Hence, Choi said he won’t rule out the possibility of increasing his stake of 332.5 million shares equating to an 8.96 per cent stake acquired via a private placement.

"I don’t rule out the possibilities. It is a public listed company. I keep that option open.” Among others, AirAsia’s Super app has 16 million monthly active users (56 million pre-COVID-19 pandemic) and emerged as the app of choice in Southeast Asia and Asia in general, and making e-commerce available/accessible for 700 million population in ASEAN alone and 4.5 billion across Asia.

"Besides, AirAsia is one of the best managed carriers in the world. Its fundamentals are so solid. Once the timing is there, I believe that AirAsia along with other airlines would bounce back and AirAsia would be among the first to do so,” he said.

Hence, the investment decision was made based on the fundamentals, supported by vaccine rollout across key markets, followed by the recovery of travel and tourism across Asia, he said.

"It will even take one or two years before the travel and tourism industry will fully recover and the potential is tremendous. So, my investment is for long term,” he said when asked on his holding tenure.

Choi is the chairman of Head & Shoulders Financial Group, as well as the chairman and executive director of International Entertainment Corporation, which is listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

He is also the only co-founding member from Hong Kong for YunFeng Capital - a private equity fund started in 2010 by a group of successful entrepreneurs and influential industry leaders, named after its co-founder Jack Ma Yun, founder of Alibaba Group, and David Yu Feng, founder of Target Media.

Going forward, he hopes to contribute by way of creating value.

"I (will) probably give ideas, especially in ways of doing business in China. There is a way of doing business there and creating value there but I would let the decisions to be made by the management team.” Choi has more than 20 years of experience in financial services and merger and acquisition transactions, with a particular focus on private equity investment.

He was a seed investor of Kidswant, a Chinese startup that has now become a leading maternity, baby and children's product retailer in China with a valuation of over US$3 billion.

AirAsia's share price rose 2.67 per cent to close at 96 sen today with 72.24 million shares traded.

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