By Madelaine B. Miraflor
F&S Holdings Inc., now owned by Representative Michael Romero, has acquired additional shares in AirAsia Philippines, making it the single largest stockholder of the local unit of Southeast Asia’s largest low-cost airline.
With the new ownership, the company finally sees its planned Initial Public Offering (IPO) at the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) taking off.
Romero said in a briefing on Monday that he and his wife, Sheila Romero, has acquired additional 28.8 percent shares of Air Asia Inc.(AA), the corporation that owns and manages Philippines AirAsia, raising its total shares of AAI to 44.5 percent.
Rationalizing his investment, the 1-Pacman partylist representative said airlines is now a “booming industry” and that “the company is now becoming more profitable”.
For this year, AAI is targeting to book P30 billion in revenues, which is 50 percent up from last year’s revenues of P20.9 billion. It also expects to return to profitability with a net income of about P2 billion from a net loss of P2.9 billion.
To be specific, the Romeros acquired 13 percent shares and 15.8 percent shares of AAI from Ambassador Aldredo Yao and AAI Chairperson Marianne Hontiveros, respectively.
TNR Holdings, owned by Antonio “Tonyboy Cojuangco, still owns 15.7 percent shares of AAI, while the balance of 40 percent is still held by Malaysian billionaires and Air Asia Berhad founders Tony Fernandes and Kamarudin Menardum.
Romero didn’t disclose the value of the acquisition deal, but he said that the post-acquisition restructuring of the company could make it finally poise for a US$200-million maiden share sale in PSE, which has already been pushed back several times.
“We plan to do IPO this year after planned restructuring,” Romero said, adding that the current valuation of the company stood around US$600 million.
F&S Holdings Chief Legal Advisor Joseph Castillo said the planned restructuring of the company should be completed by September while Romero said the IPO should get moving by November or December.
AAI plans to sell 20 percent of the company to the public during its market debut.
The proceeds from the offering should help the company raise enough fund to acquire more aircraft.
From 23 planes, the company wants to bring its fleet number by 50 in the next three years.
The airline is also targeting to record 8 million passengers for this year, up from 7 million passengers last year.
Romero, who is the previous owner of Manila North Harbour Inc., currently leads the 55-member party-list bloc in the incoming 18th Congress.
Before leaving Manila North Harbour, Inc., Romero caught himself in a dispute with his father businessman Reghis Romero II regarding the ownership structure of the port company.