A Nepalese insurance company has acquired a 49% stake in Yeti Airlines (YT, Kathmandu). Kathmandu-based Asian Life Insurance paid NPR1.75 billion Nepalese rupees (USD13.2 million) for the shareholding, which comes ahead of an expected IPO on the Nepal Stock Exchange (NEPSE).

The Nepali-language Bizness News outlet reports on the transaction, which ch-aviation has independently verified. The insurance company paid a 70% premium on the shares, held by the Sherpa family, which had a paper value of NPR100 (USD0.75). Asian Life Insurance will take over the day-to-day running of the airline and has recently installed Subhas Sapkota as the carrier's new chief executive officer.

Angchiring Sherpa founded Yeti Airlines in 1998. The airline now flies to 12 destinations within Nepal using a fleet of five ATR72-500s and three Twin Otters - two DHC-6-400s and one DHC-6-300 all operated by subsidiary Tara Air. Yeti Airlines has never been profitable, but it supplements and is cross-subsidised by the Sherpa family's extensive business interests in the tourism and hospitality sectors. In addition to Yeti Airlines, the Sherpa's have interests in trekking businesses, hotels, and are general sales agents for Thai Lion Air, Batik Air Malaysia, and Kuwait Airways. Angchiring Sherpa was killed in a helicopter accident in February 2019, and his brother, Lakpa Sonam Sherpa, now fronts the family's interests. ch-aviation understands the family is keen to cash out of the loss-making airline and was a willing seller to Asian Life Insurance and is actively promoting the impending IPO.

Asian Life Insurance is a privately owned company established in 2008. The CEO is Dinesh Lal Shrestha, who has a background in the banking and life insurance sectors. According to the insurance company's website, its authorised capital is NPR5 billion (USD37.7 billion), and the paid-up capital is (USD21.8 million). The company holds life insurance funds totalling NPR34 billion (USD356.1 million). Asian Life Insurance will also run the IPO process, which is expected to occur within 12 months of securing the appropriate regulatory approvals.