June 4, 2020 / 12:35 PM / 2 months ago

UPDATE 1-Malaysia's AirAsia considers fundraising, JV options to ride out pandemic

* Airline received fundraising proposals amid pandemic hit

* Discussions ongoing for possible JVs and collaborations too

* Airline may decide soon on capital to be raised

* Has held talks with South Korea’s SK Holdings - source (Updates with source confirmation, background; adds bullets)

KUALA LUMPUR, June 4 (Reuters) - Malaysia’s flagship budget carrier AirAsia Group Bhd is evaluating proposals for raising capital to strengthen its equity base and liquidity, the company said in a statement Thursday.

AirAsia said it has been presented with proposals from investment bankers, lenders and potential investors to help the airline “weather the storm” caused by the new coronavirus pandemic.

It also has ongoing deliberations with a number of parties for joint-ventures and collaborations that may result in additional investments in specific segments of the group’s business, it said in the bourse filing.

The airline said it may soon reach a decision on the proposals and amount to be raised.

“Any decision made will take into account the Company’s business needs and the interests of the Company, its shareholders and other stakeholders,” it said.

The airline made the statement in response to a report by local newspaper The Star citing sources saying AirAsia was in talks to sell a 10% stake to South Korea’s SK Holdings through a private placement.

SK Holdings, the third largest Korean conglomerate with businesses spanning memory chips to energy, and AirAsia have been locked in negotiations for the past few months and SK sees a stake purchase as an opportunistic acquisition, said one source aware of the matter.

The source said AirAsia had been pitching to get an investor outside the aviation sector.

AirAsia chief Tony Fernandes said in April that the airline was seeking a government loan as the industry began to take a hit from the virus outbreak. (Reporting by Liz Lee in Kuala Lumpur and Anshuman Daga in Singapore; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

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