AirAsia divests partial stake in online travel business for RM306 mil

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KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 17): AirAsia Bhd had on Feb 16 divested its partial stake in Singapore-based online travel outfit AAE Travel Pte Ltd for US$86.25 million (or RM306.19 million).

In a filing with Bursa Malaysia today, the budget airline said a share purchase agreement had been executied between Expedia Inc (Expedia) Expedia Southeast Asia Pte Ltd, and its wholly owned unit AirAsia Exp Pte Ltd, to divest a total of 6.14 million shares or a 25% equity interest in AAE to the Expedia group.

AirAsia (fundamental: 1.3; valuation: 1.8) and Expedia both hold 50% stake in AAE via their respective wholly-owned subsidiary, AirAsia Exp and Expedia Southeast Asia. Subsequent to the disposal, AirAsia will be left with a 25% stake in AAE while Expedia will own a 75% stake.

“AirAsia’s rational for the transaction is to monetise its investment in the JV company and to increase its liquidity and access to capital,” AirAsia explained the corporate exercise in the filing today.

AirAsia said this disposal will realise a gain on disposal of US$78.76 million (RM279.60 million).

“The net assets and cash balance of AirAsia is expected to increase by US$78.76 million (RM279.60 million) and US$86.25 million (RM306.19 million) respectively,” the airline said.

The sale consideration, meanwhile, will be utilised to augment AirAsia’s working capital, according to the filing.

As of market break, AirAsia appreciated three sen or 1.15% to RM2.65, having 1.47 million shares done, giving it a market capitalisation of RM7.29 billion.

(Note: The Edge Research's fundamental score reflects a company’s profitability and balance sheet strength, calculated based on historical numbers. The valuation score determines if a stock is attractively valued or not, also based on historical numbers. A score of 3 suggests strong fundamentals and attractive valuations.)