AirAsia X hopes to raise up to $372 million from IPO

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - Malaysian tycoon Tony Fernandes plans to raise up to US$300 million (S$372 million) by listing shares in the long-haul arm of AirAsia, slated for July, a source said Monday.

AirAsia X would sell 790.12 million shares in the initial public offering (IPO) with listing scheduled for July 10 on Bursa Malaysia, a source familiar with the deal told AFP on condition of anonymity.

The funds are expected to be used for a mixture of activities including capital expenditure and repayment of loans.

Mr Fernandes, who declined to reveal details of the IPO due to regulatory compliance, told AFP that a roadshow to promote his airline business would start in the second week of June with retail investors being his primary target.

"Going to do a much larger retail offering to give back something to the thousands of people who flew and supported us. Roadshow will start in the second week of June," he said in an email message.

"I will go on the road to meet retail investors," he added.

The listing comes as Mr Fernandes tries to tap the Kuala Lumpur exchange's popularity as a centre to launch initial public offerings.

Mr Shukor Yusof, an aviation analyst with Standard and Poor's Equity Research in Singapore said the AirAsia X listing would be a success.

"It is doable. With Tony at the helm it lends credibility to the IPO. The financial market is conducive and there is an appetite for shares in a low cost carrier especially one with a proven track record like AirAsia, despite the global economic turbulence," he told AFP.

AirAsia X flies to cities in Australia, Japan and China from Kuala Lumpur.

Mr Fernandes has previously announced plans to list AirAsia's Indonesian unit and Tune Insurance in a bid to raise funds to expand in a bigger marketplace.

Tune Group is owned by Mr Fernandes and his deputy Kamarudin Meranum who are founders of AirAsia, the region's largest budget carrier.

Meanwhile Dow Jones Newswires said the planned offering by AirAsia X kickstarts the IPO momentum in Malaysia that saw deals worth about US$4 billion held back due to elections in the country earlier this month.

Companies like power firm Malakoff, port and logistics company Westports and an oil-and-gas unit of UMW Holdings had delayed their offerings ahead of the May 5 elections, it said.

Last year Malaysia saw IPOs worth close to US$12 billion raised, making it the number one country in South-east Asia in terms of fundraising. So far this year, the country ranks fifth in Southeast Asia by deal value, Dow Jones said.