Dec 16, 2014

    MAS suspends shares as part of turnaround plan


    MALAYSIA Airlines (MAS) suspended its shares from the country's stock exchange yesterday under a government rescue plan for the flag carrier, which is fighting for survival after losing two planes this year.

    The airline, whose already loss-making operations took a further beating after the two tragedies, said in a notice to the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange last week that trading would be suspended from yesterday.

    An MAS spokesman confirmed that the stock has ceased trading.

    Under a plan announced in August, state investment fund Khazanah Nasional, which already owned around 70 per cent of the carrier, is acquiring all remaining shares, delisting the stock and privatising the company to deal with its problems.

    MAS chalked up losses for years, even before this year's disasters involving flights MH370 and MH17, in which a total of 537 lives were lost.

    Khazanah's plans include pumping US$1.73 billion (S$2.28 billion) into the airline, cutting 6,000 jobs - or 30 per cent of its workforce - and trimming its route network.

    Earlier this month, it tapped the head of Irish flag-carrier Aer Lingus, Christoph Mueller, to take over as chief executive in the middle of next year.

    Mr Mueller, who is German, initiated an Aer Lingus turnaround strategy that involved hefty job cuts.

    MAS has struggled for years, with analysts blaming poor management, unwise business decisions and government meddling.

    MH370, carrying 239 people, disappeared in March after inexplicably diverting from its Kuala Lumpur-Beijing course. No trace of the aircraft has been found.

    MH17 went down in July in rebellion-torn eastern Ukraine - believed to have been hit by a surface-to-air missile - killing all 298 aboard.