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Bulan Puasa Berangin Juga
By Kapal Berita

14/12/2000 1:24 pm Thu

SwissAir dan KLM menafikan kabar angin di bulan puasa yang dilapurkan bersumber dari Tajuddin Ramli.

Terdapat kebimbangan syarikat tersebut untuk mengambil langkah yang memudaratkan mereka sendiri. Menurut jurucakap Majalah Orient Aviation, Qantas hanya berminat jika ada jaminan MAS tidak akan diikat untuk terbang. Ia perlu bebas diurus untuk menentukan penerbangannya mengikut kehendak komersil dan penswataan yang bebas.

"Terdapat kebimbangan gangguan politik ... Malaysia adalah satu negara yang amat nationalistik, terutamanya jika Mahathir masih berkuasa." ujar Tom Ballantyne, ketua kurucakap of majalah Orient Aviation.

Lagipun Malaysia asyik bertekak dengan Canbera sejak Mahathir memegang tampuk kuasa. Tidak mungkin Qantas boleh melupakan karenah Mahathir.

Kalau ya pun, kita berharap Tajuddin tidak beria-ria membuka cerita, ini kan bulan puasa. Kalau dah rezeki takan kemana, tetapi kalau minyak sudah tidak ada, kapalterbang hebat macam mana pun akan menjunam dan meletup juga. Yang selamat hanyalah iman yang terpaku di dada. Bohonh hanya mengundang celaka....

Fears of political meddling hampering airline stake sale: analysts

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 11 (AFP) - 15:41 - Two foreign airlines have denied plans to buy a stake in loss-making Malaysia Airlines and analysts said Monday that fears of political meddling were deterring potential overseas partners.

Just two days after Malaysia Airlines executive chairman Tajudin Ramli was quoted as saying that KLM, SwissAir and Qantas were showing "very, very serious" interest, SwissAir and KLM denied they plan to take a stake.

SwissAir said it had no intention of buying a shareholding and was only interested in expanding commercial operations.

Officials in Amsterdam were also quoted as saying KLM had no current interest in buying a stake.

Australia's Qantas said it had made no decision and industry sources said none was imminent. The firm indirectly indicated that having a say in management would be an issue.

"We have had discussions with MAS (the airline parent company) on a number of issues including possible equity and commercial cooperation," said Qantas chief executive designate Geoff Dixon in a statement.

"We have not finalised any decision and are waiting to learn specific details of what is on offer.

"If Qantas decides to take any significant equity in another airline, it would be on the basis of Qantas being welcomed as a partner and being able to gain some real synergies."

Tajudin, whose company Naluri Bhd holds the largest single stake of 29 percent in Malaysia Airlines, says he has almost finalised a deal to sell this to the government.

The government is then expected to sell all or part of the stake to a foreign carrier to bring in outside expertise and raise capital.

"I don't think Qantas will be particularly interested unless there are guarantees that it will be absolutely free to manage the airline under truly commercial and privatised conditions," said Tom Ballantyne, chief correspondent of Orient Aviation magazine.

"There is a fear of political interference ... Malaysia is a very nationalistic country, especially while Dr. Mahathir is still in charge."

Ballantyne also cited past diplomatic disputes between Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's government and Canberra.

He said Malaysia's flag carrier was highly regarded in terms of service but added: "I don't think Malaysia Airlines is especially attractive at this time. It has been losing a lot of money and needs a lot done.

"Even when privatised it will probably be subject to a lot of political interference."

Ballantyne said Qantas had a very strong hubbing operation in Singapore with British Airways. "I can't see Qantas talking about setting up Kuala Lumpur as a hub."

Attracting a foreign partner "will be difficult," said a regional aviation analyst who declined to be identified.

"Malaysia Airlines has a track record where government interference has been the norm, where non-commercial considerations often intrude. It is a very major obstacle (to taking a stake)."

The analyst believed there was potentially still overseas interest but said prospective buyers would need a "very strong reassurance" that they could exercise some control over management.

He said some routes seemed to have little commercial justification, such as a twice-weekly flight to Zagreb.

"There has been a tendency to treat Malaysia Airlines as an extension of the diplomatic service. That reputation would have to concern a strategic investor.

"Will they be vetoed if they try to steer the airline in a commercial direction?"

The analyst said the last few years had been difficult to Malaysia Airlines. "It made losses for three years and when it made profits these were not especially impressive."

The airline posted a net loss of 258.57 million ringgit (68 million dollars) in the year to March, compared with a net loss of 700 million ringgit the year before.

Pricing may also be a problem if the government buys Tajudin's stake at the eight ringgit a share he paid for it and if it expects to recoup that from a foreign buyer.

Naluri has debts of close to one billion ringgit (263 million dollars).

Malaysia Airlines was down 0.14 ringgit at 3.84 at midday Monday following the KLM and SwissAir comments, after rising sharply last week following Tajudin's remarks.

"It is difficult to understand what everyone's up to and this makes a lot of people uncomfortable," the analyst added.

December 11 , 2000 13:08PM

Tajudin non-commital over Swissair & KLM denials

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 11 (Bernama) -- Malaysian Airline System (MAS) executive chairman Tan Sri Tajudin Ramli was non-committal over reports that two foreign airlines, Swissair and KLM, had denied making bids to buy stakes in the national carrier.

"You had better ask the shareholder. I'm selling (the stake) to the government," he said in an apparent reference to the government being the major shareholder of MAS.

Tajudin was approached by reporters here after an underwriting ceremony of Edaran Digital Systems Bhd of which he is chairman. Edaran Digital Systems is involved in information technology and telecommunications.

Foreign news agency reports had quoted Swissair and KLM officials as saying that they did not have plans to buy MAS shares from the government at present.

The statements by the two airlines came soon after Tajudin's statement last week that Swissair, KLM and Australia's Qantas Airways were potential buyers of his 29.01 percent stake in MAS.

However, Qantas recently confirmed that it is in talks to buy some shares in MAS.

It is believed that the government is negotiating to buy Tajudin's strategic stake in MAS now held by Naluri Bhd, of which Tajudin is also chairman, before selling all of the stake or parts of it to interested foreign parties.