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Japan Airlines to raise up to US$8.4b in share sale

August 30, 2012

TOKYO: Japan Airlines said today its relisting on Tokyo’s stock market could could raise as much as US$8.4 billion, as it continues a return to strength less than three years after being forced into bankruptcy.

That is nearly double the amount of public money spent to keep it afloat during a restructuring, allowing it to repay the government, and is on track to be the year’s second-biggest share sale globally after Facebook’s US$16.0 billion listing.

The new shares in JAL, which went bankrupt in January 2010 and saw its shares delisted the following month with debts totalling 2.32 trillion yen, are scheduled to start trading on the Tokyo Stock Exchange on Sept 19.

The carrier today said it would sell 175 million shares at a price between 3,500 yen and 3,790 yen.

The airline, which continued to fly during its time off the stock exchange, implemented massive job and route cuts as part of its overhaul.

This month, the airline pointed to its improved financial health, saying net profit in the April-June quarter more than doubled to 26.9 billion yen.

Cost-cutting and improved productivity were credited by the company for the result, which was up from a 12.7 billion yen net profit a year ago.

Revenue climbed 12.5% on the back of a pickup in international travel demand as a strong yen, which hit record highs against the dollar late last year, prompted more Japanese holidaymakers to venture overseas.

Sales from domestic operations also improved as the market recovered from slumping demand after last year’s quake and tsunami disaster in northeast Japan.

The carrier kept its annual forecast unchanged, expecting a net profit of 130 billion yen in the fiscal year through March 2013.

JAL says sorry

The quarterly results were a major turnaround for the carrier, which exited bankruptcy proceedings in March last year.

When the carrier announced its latest financial results, JAL president Yoshiharu Ueki apologised to creditors and former shareholders who took a hit when the airline sought bankruptcy protection.

He also said the airline would be able to return the 350 billion in bailout money through the share offer.

Earlier this year, JAL said it had ordered 10 new Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft as it looks to build on its recovery and fight off the threat from an emerging domestic budget sector.

The announcement, part of a five-year plan, was in addition to an earlier order for 35 of the planes.

Built largely with lightweight composite materials, Boeing said the Dreamliner is about 20% more fuel efficient than similarly sized aircraft and was the first mid-size airplane able to fly long-range routes.

Japan’s major airlines were behind global players in terms of entry into the low-cost sector, but JAL’s main rival All Nippon Airways (ANA) last year set up budget airline Peach Aviation with a Hong Kong investment fund.

It was followed by JAL’s tie-up with Australia’s Qantas, which launched Jetstar Japan, while AirAsia Japan – a joint venture between ANA and Malaysia’s AirAsia – has also launched its lower-cost service.

- AFP


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