Who’s who in the chase for Malaysia Airlines

Potential suitors are approaching the govt with proposals to take over the national carrier

by SHAZNI ONG/ pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

NEWS on a potential takeover of Malaysia Airlines Bhd (MAB) is the current talk of the town, with numerous suitors approaching the government with proposals.

Last month, Prime Minister (PM) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the government would consider selling the national carrier “if there is a good offer”; meanwhile, four companies were said to be keen on taking over the ailing airline.

However, the PM said no decision has been made on the offers and the government needs to be careful in its considerations.

Dr Mahathir said the local companies which had submitted proposals to take over the airline are confident in their ability to revive it.

Several individuals were appointed, management was changed and numerous initiatives were done to turn it around, but the airline remained unprofitable.

The Malaysian Reserve looks at the names of who had expressed interest in reviving the national air carrier back to its glorious days.

Datuk Pahamin Ab Rajab

AirAsia Group Bhd co-founder and former chairman Pahamin led a group of businessmen to meet the PM to express interest in the airline.

He and his five partners pledged to turn the company around in 18 months, along with the assurance that there would be no job cuts.

Pahamin, who is currently an advocate and solicitor with the High Court, served as secretary general of the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry from 1998 to 2002.

During the meeting, the group had sought the approval of the PM, who is also chairman of Khazanah Nasional Bhd — the sole shareholder of MAB — to conduct due diligence on the national carrier in order to find the right solution, which could take between six and nine months.

The group, known as Najah Air Sdn Bhd, plans to retain the airline as a premium full-service carrier, while Flyfirefly Sdn Bhd would be transfomed into Asean’s first ultra-low-cost carrier that focuses on the millennials.

At the same time, Pahamin had offered to buy a 49% stake in MAB with the remaining 51% of its stake being owned by Khazanah.

Najah Air is currently in the process of being registered and would be their vehicle to take over the airline.

Subsequently, due to his past stint at AirAsia, there were speculations that he was representing Tan Sri Dr Tony Fernandes in taking over MAB.

Fernandes, however, has denied any interest in the matter.

There were also questions of whether Pahamin would take over the post of MAB chairman and its parent Malaysia Aviation Group.

The chairmanship was left empty after Tan Sri Mohammed Nor Md Yusof resigned on March 1.

Pahamin is the chairman of YBS International Bhd (formerly known as LNG Resources Bhd) since September last year, H-Displays MSC Bhd since May 2008 and a board member for Zaitun Bhd since 2002.

YBS International operates as an investment holding company and through its subsidiaries, designs and manufactures high precision moulds, tools and dies. It also has focus in property investment.

Meanwhile, H-Displays MSC designs, manufactures and sells LCD display products, while Zaitun is an investment holding company, with its subsidiaries manufacturing, selling, and trading toiletries, cosmetics and food products.

Other positions he has held include SEG International Bhd chairman (June 2005-June 2008), AirAsia chairman (December 2001-June 2008), SEG International board member (August 2002-June 2005) and Padiberas Nasional Bhd board member (1999-April 2001).

Tan Sri Syed Azman Syed Ibrahim

The Weststar Group MD is among the strong contenders in bidding to rescue the ailing airlines.

Having held various positions in the Armed Forces (1980-1993), he was also a board member of Ayer Molek Rubber Co Bhd and Hytex Integrated Bhd.

The 59-year-old’s net worth was ranked 25th in Forbes’ Malaysia’s 50 Richest List, amounting to US$750 million (RM3.1 billion) as of March 2019.

Starting out as a defence contractor and later diversified into car dealerships, Syed Azman now runs South-East Asia’s largest helicopter fleet for the oil and gas sector through his privately held Weststar Aviation Services Sdn Bhd.

“He now also has a business chartering private jets to executives and is spreading his wings into Africa and the Middle East. Weststar Aviation boasts a fleet of 28 helicopters serving Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia,” Forbes wrote.

Feriz Omar

After Khazanah rejected Jentayu Danaraksa Sdn Bhd’s takeover proposal in 2014, Feriz is said to be launching a second takeover attempt for MAB.

Jentayu MD Feriz leads a six-man board, including himself and former Malaysian Airline System Bhd (MAS) CEO and MD Tan Sri Dr Abdul Aziz Abdul Rahman.

Jentayu is a company which comprises a set of Bumiputera professionals-turned-entrepreneurs, specialising in aviation, corporate finance and capital markets.

Feriz is a financial engineering and investment banker and was a former director of and Malaysian International Merchant Bankers Bhd and is now the MD of Feriz Omar & Partners.

Based on his LinkedIn profile, Feriz has had various experiences in the corporate world and was also an advisor/ special officer to the deputy PM at the PM’s Office between 2009 and 2013.

Former PM Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak and current Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin were the two deputy PMs during that period.

Shahril Lamin and Tan Sri Dr Abdul Aziz Abdul Rahman

Earlier in March, a group consisting of former MAS employees and several private individuals were the first to express interest in helping the government turn MAB around.

Headed by corporate lawyer Shahril and former MAS CEO Abdul Aziz as its advisor, the group expressed confidence that it can make the airline profitable within three years.

Shahril and his friends were reported to have come up with a solution to the ailing carrier’s troubles shortly after the 14th General Election and were of the view that the government should not shut the airline down.

Others

A group of investors — said to be keen totakeupastakeinMAB—wasalso believed to have approached QuantePhi Sdn Bhd, a boutique advisory firm founded by Mohammed Rashdan Yusof, to advise on a takeover proposal for the carrier.

QuantePhi was the financial advisor for DRB-Hicom Bhd, in the corporate restructuring of the then ailing Proton Holdings Bhd.

From 2011 to 2012, Mohammed Rashdan was the deputy group CEO of the now-defunct MAS. He has been with Gamuda Bhd since 2018 and is currently Gamuda’s deputy MD.

Mohammed Rashdan has 26 years of experience serving in various capacities namely in the corporate finance and investment banking industry, corporate consultancy and the financial services sector.

He served as ED (investments) at Khazanah from 2010 to 2012 and as CEO of Maybank Investment Bank Bhd from 2008 to 2010. Prior to that, he was MD of BinaFikir Sdn Bhd from 2003 to 2008 and was MD in QuantePhi, which he founded in 2012, until December 2017.

Mohammed Rashdan currently sits as a board member in various companies, including MAB, Ranhill Energy Sdn Bhd, QuantePhi, Quintephi Sdn Bhd, Fayruz & Rashdan Sdn Bhd, and Sepang International Circuit Sdn Bhd.