Sell-off imminent for Malaysia Airlines, says Najib after Morgan Stanley entry

PETALING JAYA: Najib Razak today said Khazanah Nasional Bhd’s decision to hire an international investment bank to explore strategic options for Malaysia Airlines Bhd could signal the sale of the national carrier to a foreign company.

“Usually, an investment bank is hired when there is an intention to sell assets to another company, especially a foreign one.

“It seems that the chances of MAS being sold off is brighter,” the former prime minister said in a Facebook post, referring to the airline by its old moniker.

Earlier today, Bloomberg reported that Morgan Stanley would be responsible for looking at options for the airline, including a potential stake sale.

Khazanah, the country’s sovereign wealth fund and the sole shareholder of the airline, wanted to get a deal done by the end of this year, the report read.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the government had received four takeover offers for Malaysia Airlines, the majority of which were from locals.

However, he said no decision had been made as the government was still studying the offers and looking for “somebody who is experienced”.

Khazanah’s decision to hire Morgan Stanley did not sit well with the National Union of Flight Attendants Malaysia (Nufam) which wondered if the former had learned from past mistakes it made when handling the national carrier.

Many people, including staff, it claimed, were angry at the idea of wanting to engage another group of foreign consultants to help turn the airline around.

“What does Morgan Stanley know about the ins and outs of MAS employees? All they do is recommend for more employees to be trimmed and use everything in the book to undermine the people.

“Haven’t we seen enough of the problems left behind by them?” it said in a statement, adding that it did not need a rocket scientist to figure out problems plaguing Malaysia Airlines.

Nufam reiterated its call for the salaries of the top management to be reviewed and for bulk contracts to be done away it.

It also said it was time some of Khazanah’s “airline experts”, who were once involved in MAS’ restructuring exercise, left it to others to handle.

“We urge for MAS to be placed under a special purpose vehicle under the prime minister’s office”.