“No options are off the table. It's the shareholders' call. We can put the option on the table but it is still the shareholders call,” he said after the company AGM that lasted for three hours yesterday.
The research house in its report said the privatisation of MAS was not an outlandish idea and the shareholders might just warm up to the idea. More so since the analyst community had an overwhelming “sell” call on the carrier after the airline reported RM242mil in net loss for the first quarter ended March 31, 2011.
“There are merits to a privatisation, it provides a shelter away from further downside volatility in the share price, while the company reshapes itself up for a re-listing in the future years,'' the report said.
Munir said privatisation was not exactly a “brilliant or unique” idea but it remained an idea to be tossed with. He added that MAS would consider all options and make a choice that was best for the company, without elaborating.
At 5pm yesterday, MAS had a market capitalisation of RM5.2bil. Its share price had been underperforming so far, closing at RM1.56 yesterday. Year-to-date, the counter has lost 25.7%.
Separately, Munir explained that the board of directors had been fielding questions from shareholders at the AGM, thus it took such a long time. He said shareholders wanted to know particularly what MAS was doing to close the net loss gap and concerns on share price performance were also raised at the AGM.
“We showed shareholders what we have been doing and what will be done. We also showed a comparison with other carriers. We did quite badly no doubt ... some airlines made profit while some saw their profit pared down. Luftansa made loss but it's a cold comfort for us,” he said.
Managing director and CEO Tengku Datuk Seri Azmil Zahruddin said MAS had an aspiration to become the number one airline of customer choice which would in turn help to drive its profitability and boost revenue.
He said MAS would be taking delivery of more new planes that would help the carrier to reduce its fuel cost as newer fleet would be more fuel efficient. He added that the maintenance and operation costs would also be reduced due to its aging fleet.
Last week, MAS announced that it had exercised an option to acquire 10 more Boeing 737s aircraft from Boeing, in a deal said to be worth over US$800mil (RM2.4bil).
Azmil said the group had embarked on all initiatives, including improving its front-end business that saw an increase of 40% in the first quarter, front-end check-in counter transformation at KLIA, call centre transformation and continuous improvement on website.
“All these initiatives will bring a lot of benefits to the airline. We have also joined the oneworld alliance. We are optimistic as it can provide lots of value,” Azmil said.
Asked for an indication of its second-quarter performance, Azmil declined to comment saying it was against Bursa Malaysia rules.
However, he said, MAS might not expand its capacity too rapidly in the coming quarters due to volatility in fuel price.
“If we knew that there was going to be a crisis in the Middle East, we would probably not grow our capacity that much (in the first quarter) but we didn't know.
“One of the things that we will have to do is pare down the capacity a little bit. We would probably see more of that in the third and fourth quarters,” Azmil said. “With current fuel prices, we can't sacrifice too much.”
Separately, Azmil said there would be “no immediate impact” on MAS with the Government's move to grant AirAsia X five key international routes, including Shanghai, Beijing, Osaka and Jeddah.