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(File pix) AirAsia Group chief executive officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes says the low-cost carrier will deliver the exercise via sale and buy back of an asset to reinforce the airline’s digital portfolio.

KUALA LUMPUR: AirAsia Bhd reaffirmed its plan to monetise its travel booking site, Expedia, involving the sale of its 25 per cent stake in AAE Travel.

Group chief executive officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes said the low-cost carrier will deliver the exercise via sale and buy back of an asset to reinforce the airline’s digital portfolio.

“AirAsia will deliver another sale as promised. Last one, we said Expedia. Will be a sale and a buying back of one asset to build our digital portfolio. Delivered all we said. Now onto our group and digital structure,” he tweeted this morning.

Fernandes recently said the budget airline was in discussions to dispose Expedia by year end, while reinstating the company’s focus on core operations.

Earlier this month, AirAsia sold its aircraft leasing operator unit, Asia Aviation Capital Ltd (AACL) for US$1.18 billion to commercial aircraft investments manager, BBAM Ltd Partnership (BBAM).

Aviation analysts have raised their optimism on AirAsia’s long-term strategic plan of monetising its assets, while enhancing its efforts to strengthen the low-cost carrier brand in the global market.

MIDF Research viewed this string of divestments will continue to drive excitement among investors over special dividends.

Fernandes said the idea behind the asset sale was to pay a large proportion back to the shareholders.

“AirAsia has great growth potential in the airline business and other ancillary income. Those two businesses create a normal dividend of which we will be paying,” he said.

Fernandes said a majority of the assets sale will be for dividend, subject to shareholders approval, which will be done at the annual general meeting within the next two or three months.

He said the group is also expected to sell its “Santan” food business, logistics and cargo operations.

“On top of that, we are building a powerful digital payment platform – BigPay is going to be very valuable going forward with some ventures in e-commerce as well,” he said.

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