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KUALA LUMPUR, July 12, 2006 (AFP) – Tony Fernandes, head of budget carrier AirAsia, will ensure the airline remains Malaysian owned and not sell shares to Singapore state investment arm Temasek Holdings, a report said Wednesday.

Fernandes, who has a majority stake in Tune Air which in turn owns 40 percent in Asia’s pioneering low cost airline, said AirAsia would remain 51 percent locally controlled.

At the same time, Fernandes, the company’s chief executive officer, said there was nothing to prevent Temasek from buying AirAsia shares via normal market dealings.

“They are free to buy our shares from the market. We can’t prevent them from doing so but we will not sell the shares that we currently hold to them.
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“AirAsia is a Malaysian company and we intend to keep it that way,” Fernandes was quoted as saying by the New Straits Times newspaper.

Temasek is one of Asia’s biggest investor groups with a diversified portfolio worth 103 billion Singapore dollars (65 billion US).

A local Malay daily had reported that Temasek, which already owns a five percent stake in AirAsia, was trying to increase its holding.

Currently some 45 percent of AirAsia’s shares are held by foreign investors.


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