AirAsia active, selling continues despite founders' return

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KUALA LUMPUR (March 23): AirAsia Group Bhd more than erased its rebound last Friday in active trade this morning, as news of the return of the group’s founders failed to lift sentiment.

AirAsia shares fell as much as 11 sen or 16.18% in early trading today, before paring some losses to trade 4 sen or 5.88% lower at 64 sen at the time of writing.

Trading volume stood at 42.06 million shares, which is more than its 200-day average of 16.79 million shares.

On Friday, AirAsia said its independent internal enquiry has given the all clear to its founders, group chief executive officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes and executive chairman Datuk Kamarudin Meranun, from the bribery allegations related to the Airbus scandal.

The enquiry, over allegations that AirAsia executives received bribe as sponsorship from Airbus to purchase the latter’s aircraft, found that the acquisition of aircraft was “justifiable and at prices favourable to the company” and that Airbus’ sponsorship of the sports team was disclosed to and supported by the board of directors of AirAsia at the relevant time.

Meanwhile, AirAsia’s sister company AirAsia X Bhd traded unchanged at 5 sen apiece — just above its record low of 4 sen — for a market capitalisation of RM207.41 million.

Separately Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd extended its decline, trading 10 sen or 2.1% lower at RM4.67 apiece for a market capitalisation of RM7.75 billion.

Shares of aviation-linked companies have taken a beating, as the Covid-19 global pandemic has resulted in nationwide lockdown in several countries and halted travel, causing thousands of flights to be cancelled — Malaysia included.