Minority shareholders back $526 million privatisation buyout of Malaysia Airlines

Minority shareholders in Malaysian Airline System Bhd (MAS) on Thursday backed a RM1.4 billion (S$542.6 million) bid by its majority owner, state fund Khazanah Nasional Bhd, to take the struggling carrier private. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Minority shareholders in Malaysian Airline System Bhd (MAS) on Thursday backed a RM1.4 billion (S$542.6 million) bid by its majority owner, state fund Khazanah Nasional Bhd, to take the struggling carrier private. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LUMPUR (REUTERS, THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Minority shareholders in Malaysian Airline System Bhd (MAS) on Thursday backed a RM1.4 billion (S$542.6 million) bid by its majority owner, state fund Khazanah Nasional Bhd, to take the struggling carrier private.

The approval moves Khazanah a step closer to implementing plans to return the carrier, hit by the loss of two jets in separate incidents this year, to profitability.

Minority shareholders in MAS attended an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) in Kuala Lumpur to vote on Khazanah's bid to buy the 30.6 percent stake it does not already own in the company at 27 sen per share. The offer was made after the already loss-making airline was struck by disasters earlier this year.

The unexplained disappearance of Flight MH370 in March led MAS into its worst quarterly performance in two years in January-March. Its problems deepened on July 17 when its Flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board.

Khazanah's proposal received 93.3 per cent approval from the minority shareholders at the EGM held at the MAS academy in Kelana Jaya.

MAS' share price fell to an intra afternoon low of 18.5 sen. At 4.30pm, it was unchanged at 26 sen.

Shareholders raised a lot of questions, with one shareholder saying the offer of 27 sen a share was too low.

Khazanah is offering an exit from MAS at 27 sen a share, or totalling RM1.4 billion.

Ministry of Finance secretary general Tan Sri Abdullah Mohd Irwan Serigar said the 27 sen a share was a fair value and the shareholders should accept the offer.

Irawn is a director of MAS and he represents the government, which has a 69.37 per cent equity interest in the national carrier.

Khazanah needed the minorities to vote in favour of its plan for it to be executed.

All attendees to the EGM were given two travel vouchers worth RM800 each.

A total of 559 shareholders had registered to attend the EGM, representing 93.3 million shares as at 11am. There were another 200 proxies.