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State fund offers to take Malaysia Airlines private

Malaysia Airlines (MAS) said Friday that state fund Khazanah has offered 27 sen a share, amounting to 1.4 billion ringgit ($435 million), to take the beleaguered airline private.

The offer is at a premium to the airline's closing price of 24 sen per share on Thursday. Shares were halted on Friday pending the announcement.

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The carrier will request a delisting due to its "deteriorating financial performance" and Khazanah, which owns 69 percent of MAS, will undertake a comprehensive review and restructuring of the airline, MAS said.

A Malaysia Airlines plane prepares to go onto the runway at the Perth International Airport.
Greg Wood | AFP | Getty Images
A Malaysia Airlines plane prepares to go onto the runway at the Perth International Airport.

Malaysia's flagship carrier has faced a trying year after being hit by twin disasters. Flight MH370 carrying 239 passengers disappeared on March 8 enroute from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing and is believed to have crashed in the Indian Ocean. And on July 17, another jet, Flight MH17, was shot down over Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board.

A delisting would pave the way for Khazanah, which is chaired by Prime Minister Najib Razak, to revive the loss-making carrier, possibly by selling off its profitable engineering, airport services or budget airline units, trimming its payroll and installing a new management team.

Analysts expect to see an expansive overhaul but note that the move is a step in the right direction.

"Khazanah will be able to restructure in a good way I believe," said Mohshin Aziz, aviation analyst at Maybank Investment Bank. "After taking private, [they'll] probably have to do a lot of restructuring, namely cutting some business units, refinancing some of the loan terms. It's just the first chapter of the long list they have to do."

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"It's too early to give a cost estimate, more realistically, they'll have to look deeper into the business, downsize it and may require some golden handshake," he added.

Following the news Malaysia Airlines sent this tweet from its official twitter account: