Pahamin’s Najah Air eyes funding from SoftBank — source

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on July 17, 2019.
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KUALA LUMPUR: Najah Air Sdn Bhd, which is seeking funding to support its takeover bid for Malaysia Airlines Bhd, is looking to woo Japanese conglomerate SoftBank Group Corp as a seed investor in the start-up, said a source familiar with the matter.

Najah Air, initiated by a group of businessmen led by former AirAsia Group Bhd chairman Datuk Pahamin Ab Rajab, has sought an appointment with Masayoshi Son, founder of one of Japan’s largest and most well-known companies, but the development is still in its early stages, the source said.

On Monday, The Edge Financial Daily, quoting sources, reported that Najah Air is seeking about RM1 billion from a Japanese lender. At the same time, the group is also seeking funding from other investors.

The source said Najah Air is confident it will get SoftBank interested in backing its effort as the Japanese company is known for pumping money into start-ups worldwide like ride-hailing companies Grab, Uber Technologies, China’s Didi Chuxing and India’s Ola.

Under the group’s plan, Malaysia Airlines will be a low-cost, full-service carrier while FlyFirefly Sdn Bhd will be transformed into Asean’s first ultra-low-cost carrier focusing on millennials.

“Technology will play an important role in reshaping the national carrier,” added the source.

The Edge Malaysia weekly had in April reported that Najah Air is proposing a turnaround plan for Malaysia Airlines involving new capital infusion, doubling cargo revenue and maximising aircraft utilisation rather than adding more planes.