King Power chief buys stake in Thai AirAsia

TD Guest Writer

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King Power chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha
King Power chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha

King Power, the Thai duty-free giant, has acquired a stake in Thai AirAsia.

The low-cost carrier’s CEO, Tassapon Bijleveld, has sold his 39% stake in the airline’s parent company, Asia Aviation (AAV), to King Power chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha and his family. The deal was for a total of 1.89 billion shares priced at THB4.20 per share, valuing the total transaction at THB7.9bn (US$225 million).

As a result of the deal, the Srivaddhanaprabha family will become the largest shareholder in AAV, which owns 55% of Thai AirAsia. Bijleveld will remain the airline’s CEO.

Srivaddhanaprabha said he sees the acquisition as a long-term investment for both himself and his family. He also holds the view that Thai AirAsia and King Power will “greatly complement each other”.

Following the deal, Srivaddhanaprabha’s sons, Aiyawatt and Apichet, along with Sombat Dechapanichkul, have been named as directors of AAV.

AirAsia’s group CEO, Tony Fernandes, said he was encouraged by the deal.

“This investment proves that Thai AirAsia’s value proposition remains undiminished,” Fernandes said. “The vote of confidence that comes from one of the most successful family businesses is fantastic. The potential tie-ups between AirAsia and King Power, Thailand’s sole duty-free operator, are massive and we look forward to working together, not only in Thailand but across the group and ASEAN.”

And Bijleveld remarked that the new investment means that Thai AirAsia can continue moving forward with its expansion plans.

“[Thai AirAsia] will continue to grow and invest as planned for in 2016, accepting delivery of 51 new aircraft which, together with our existing fleet, will fly our estimated 17 million passengers to various destinations across the region,” he stated. “We will also look to further expand our flight network within ASEAN, as well as routes to China and India, and with the support of Mr Vichai’s King Power Group we may well see the company’s growth accelerated beyond what was originally anticipated.”
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