Virgin Group’s Richard Branson is reportedly eyeing a stake in Malaysian budget carrier AirAsia’s new long-haul airline. (6/26/2007)
As per the development attributed to the Star Malaysian daily, the unlisted carrier, Fly Asian Express, will sell a 20 percent stake to Branson’s Virgin Group. The newspaper cited sources familiar with the deal.
Dow Jones Newswires also reported that the deal could be signed as early as next month and could cost Branson US$6.9 million.
Branson reportedly wants to team up with AirAsia’s owner Tony Fernandes to operate services from Malaysia to China, Europe and Australia when flights commence in September this year. The newspaper quoted Fernandes admitting that he had been in talks with Branson. “I won’t hide the fact that we’re talking, we’re always exchanging ideas, but it is not settled.”
According to another report: “Branson may buy the stake from Tony Fernandes and Kamarudin Meranum, the founders of the company, Fly Asian Express. The two men own a combined 60 percent of Fly Asian Express, which plans to launch low-cost flights from Malaysia to India, China and Europe later this year.”