Gambler Who Bet Millions on AirAsia Wants Everyone to Notice

by BLOOMBERG

When Stanley Choi became one of AirAsia Group Bhd.’s biggest shareholders a month ago, he did so with no intention to pursue the aggressive tactics favored by activists in Europe and the U.S. Instead, he saw an opportunity to create a buzz.

Choi, a poker-playing Hong Kong financier, boosted his stake in the Malaysian budget carrier to almost 9% on Feb. 18 in a private placement at a cost of about $27 million. He hadn’t previously been looking to invest in the travel industry.

“If I bet on Boeing or American Airlines, I probably wouldn’t be seen in any media,” 51-year old Choi said in an interview in his penthouse office in Hong Kong. “With this kind of size, no big airline would pay any attention.”

The shares have surged more than 50% since his stake purchase was made public.