Exclusive: AirAsia eyes HK listing as it expands in North Asia

Sun Jul 10, 2016 5:36pm EDT
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By Tim Hepher and Siva Govindasamy

FARNBOROUGH, England (Reuters) - AirAsia (AIRA.KL: Quote) is studying a dual listing in Hong Kong, part of plans to become a pan-Asian low-cost airline player as it also moves toward setting up a joint venture in China, people familiar with the matter said on Sunday.

The Malaysia-based group is simultaneously looking for more aircraft to meet strong demand in North Asia and elsewhere, the people said on the eve of Britain's Farnborough Airshow.

Asia's largest low-cost airline group, which already has affiliates across Southeast Asia, aims to form the venture with the backing of a Chinese state-owned enterprise (SOE) to help capture traffic from fast-growing secondary and tertiary cities.

Co-founder and Chief Executive Tony Fernandes referred to the potential dual listing without naming a location and hinted at a potential new aircraft order in remarks posted on his Twitter account on Sunday.

"Looking at more ancillary (revenues), more capacity and dual listing," he said.

The airline group is talking to Chinese banks and potential shareholders including China Everbright Bank, one source said.

Expansion into the world’s fastest growing aviation market comes as China edges toward overtaking mature Western air travel markets despite recent slowing economic growth.

It also comes as AirAsia rebounds from recent turbulence due to lower oil prices and as Fernandes and his partner put in additional investment and take greater control of the business.   Continued...

Air Asia planes prepare for take off at Don Mueang International Airport in Bangkok, Thailand, June 29, 2016.  REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom