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Malaysia Airlines "could go private"

Khazanah Nasional, the biggest shareholder of Malaysia Airlines (MAS), has suggested privatization as an option ahead of a proposed restructuring of the loss-making carrier, reports quoted people with knowledge of the process as saying on Wednesday.

SINGAPORE: Khazanah Nasional, the biggest shareholder of Malaysia Airlines (MAS), has suggested privatization as an option ahead of a proposed restructuring of the loss-making carrier, reports quoted people with knowledge of the process as saying on Wednesday.

Khazanah Nasional owns 69.4% of Malaysian Airline System Bhd, the company that owns the MAS brand.

At its annual general meeting recently, MAS CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said the flag carrier needed a radical overhaul to survive as it has been in the red for the past three years.

In 2013, MAS' losses rose to RM1.17 billion, nearly three times larger than its RM433 million loss recorded in 2012.

Mr Ahmad Jauhari said that the airline plans to announce a big package of changes without giving details.

"We know that there are many options to consider. But we also know that we simply cannot go on with incremental improvements.... Our only option at this point of our business evolution is sweeping change," he said in prepared remarks after the company's annual meeting on June 25.

The management of MAS will meet Malaysia's Transport Ministry to discuss the national carrier's radical recovery plan.

Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said MAS needed to undertake a lot of changes in order to make its business viable.

"MAS needs to transform. They are undergoing some difficult times, and they will brief me very soon," he told reporters in Sepang after the launch of AirAsia X Bhd's inaugural flight to Xian, China on Wednesday.

Mr Liow said more details would be disclosed after the meeting.

Privatization is only one of the options on the table, reports quoted people with knowledge of the process as saying.

"It's not a done deal," one of them said.

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