AirAsia CEO Fernandes casts other work aside amid accounting worries

Thu Jun 25, 2015 3:09am EDT
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By Siva Govindasamy

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - AirAsia Bhd (AIRA.KL: Quote) boss Tony Fernandes has told staff and analysts he will spend more time working on the budget airline and put his other business and sporting interests to one side, after a report questioning the company's accounts sent its share price tumbling.

The chief executive has said his other work will take a back seat as he focuses on repairing the financial damage done to Asia's largest low cost airline, according to analysts and two AirAsia executives who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity.

Analysts covering the airline say Fernandes told them that he, and his long-term business partner Kamarudin Meranun, would become more hands on.

"Tony told us in a conference call last week that he and Kamarudin will take a back seat to everything else and focus on AirAsia," said Mohsin Aziz, a Maybank Investment Bank analyst in Kuala Lumpur.

"He's back, and he's getting more involved in many of the decisions," added one executive.

AirAsia declined to comment on the matter while Fernandes and Kamarudin did not respond to Reuters enquiries.

Fernandes, one of Asia's best known corporate leaders, has built a sprawling business empire over the past decade that includes English football club Queens Park Rangers, a hotel chain and an insurance business.

That has led to concerns among some AirAsia staff that he was spending too much time away from the airline just as it was expanding in Japan and India and facing an increasingly competitive landscape in Southeast Asia.   Continued...

An AirAsia logo is pictured at the ticketing counter at Changi Airport in Singapore December 29, 2014.  REUTERS/Edgar Su