Tuesday, 15 November 2011

New Developments regarding Tony Fernandes, AirAsia and MAS

First there was huge opposition from BN regarding the MAS - AirAsia swap.


Umno MPs call Azman Mokhtar, Tony Fernandes cheats in MAS-AirAsia share swap:

"Umno lawmakers accused Tan Sri Azman Mokhtar and Tan Sri Tony Fernandes today of cheating the public in the Malaysia Airlines (MAS) and AirAsia share swap.

Kinabatangan MP Datuk Bung Mokhtar Radin called on Khazanah chief executive Azman to be investigated by graftbusters after the state investment agency exchanged 20.5 per cent of the national carrier for a 10 per cent stake in Asia’s top-performing budget airline.

“The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) must call Tan Sri Azman ... all of them ... if there is any misappropriation, stuff them into jail,” the Barisan Nasional (BN) backbenchers deputy chief told Parliament."

A rather remarkable statement since Tony Fernandes actively campaigned for BN in the last general election.

And in another article Tony downplayed the ideas for a super-premium airline:


Super-premium airline ‘is an idea'

AirAsia Bhd co-founder and group chief executive officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes has downplayed plans to set up a super-premium airline as “just an idea”.

“What I can say is if an idea like this dare materialise, and I’m not saying it will ... it would definitely involve MAS,” Fernandes said at the launch of the airline’s loyalty programme BIG yesterday.

Minutes earlier, Fernandes said the article in a local daily which reported on the venture was “totally wrong”.

He declined to comment on specifics of the article. News of Fernandes’ plans to have a superpremium airline which would operate out of Subang airport went viral last week after a local
newspaper, quoting sources, revealed details of the venture.
According to sources who spoke to Business Times, the venture is more than just an idea as initial steps to approach both the Department of Civil Aviation and Skypark Subang have been taken.

Malaysia Airlines also came out with a statement yesterday in response to reports of its possible involvement in the project.
“We wish to clarify that at Malaysia Airlines, we will evaluate all proposals and decide appropriately only if it makes commercial sense to us,” the national carrier said in its statement.

When questioned on the existence of the company Caterham Jet Malaysia Sdn Bhd, Fernandes dismissed it, saying that it is one of hundreds of companies he and his partners have set up.

"Because we have so many problems with names (we've registered) everything ... there's Caterham jet, Caterham hotel, Lotus this..., Lotus everything," he said.

A quick check with the Companies Commission Malaysia show three companies registered with the Caterham name.

Caterham Automobile (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd, Caterham Sports Cars (M) Sdn Bhd and CaterhamJet Malaysia Sdn Bhd.

CaterhamJet was the latest addition, registered just over a month ago.

Fernandes called the idea of a super-premium business airline a wonderful opportunity for people who don't want to queue and want a different experience, a private jet experience and can pay for it.

"But it's an idea, whether we can make it work or not, who knows," he said.

Regarding the related party transactions that are going on between AirAsia and AirAsia X, the following list is from an announcement to Bursa Malaysia:

Under the terms of the Agreement, the Company has agreed to provide AAX the following services (“Services”) to be rendered by a number of departments within AirAsia for a Fee**:

1. Engineering
2. Cargo
3. Flight Operations
4. Procurement
5. In-flight Sales
6. People (Human Resources)
7. Treasury
8. AirAsia Academy (Training)
9. Communications
10. Information Technology
11. Ground Operations
12. Security
13. Ancillary Revenue
14. Commercial, Sales & Distribution
15. Go Holiday

It must be noted that AirAsia has more related party transactions, for instance with its Indonesian and Thai operations, Tune Money, Tune Talk, Queens Park Rangers and 1Malaysia Racing Team.

Related Party Transactions in itself don't necessarily need to be bad, but they do require much closer scrutiny.

And a construction, where shareholders simply invest in the holding company (and thus where transactions between subsidiaries don't matter) is from a Corporate Governance point of view highly preferable.

Unfortunately, it appears to be too late for that, and that is really a shame.

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