AirAsia gets shareholders' nod to sell 25 aircraft to Castlelake

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KUALA LUMPUR (April 16): AirAsia Group Bhd chief executive officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes has confirmed that the group is disposing of 25 aircraft to US-based global private investment firm Castlelake LP for US$768 million (RM3.2 billion) after obtaining its shareholders' approval.

Fernandes said via Twitter that AirAsia has received its shareholders' nod this morning during an extraordinary general meeting.

"Selling our aircraft monetises all our aircraft at high prices and avoids residual risk and allows us to return cash to shareholders and invest in our new digital business," said Fernandes.

"Between accountants and analysts investors get a raw deal. MFRS 16 had no impact [on] cash. I value companies on cash generation," he added from his Twitter handle @tonyfernandes.

On Dec 24 last year, AirAsia said the deal will be carried out via the sale of the group's entire equity interest in Merah Aviation Asset Holding Ltd, held by the group's indirect wholly-owned subsidiary Asia Aviation Capital Ltd (AACL), to AS Air Lease Holdings 5T DAC, an entity indirectly controlled by Castlelake.

Besides the sale of Merah Aviation shares, Castlelake will also buy from AACL a total of four new aircraft, to be delivered in 2019, said AirAsia.

Meanwhile, the 25 existing aircraft (A320-200ceo and A320neo) under Merah Aviation, as well as the four new aircraft to be delivered (A320-200ceo), will be leased back to AirAsia Bhd and/or its affiliates.

At the noon break today, shares of AirAsia were unchanged at RM2.47, giving it a market capitalisation of RM8.26 billion. The group saw some 3.06 million changing hands.