Philippines AirAsia (Z2, Manila Ninoy Aquino Int'l) shareholder Michael Romero is acquiring an additional stake in the low-cost carrier ahead of a planned Initial Public Offering (IPO), the Philippine Daily Inquirer has reported.

The purchase, whose value is still being negotiated, will raise the stake held by Romero's F&S Holdings from 15.7% to 44.5%, making the businessman and politician the airline's single biggest shareholder.

The remainder of the company is held by AirAsia Group founders Tony Fernandes and Kamarudin Menardum, who own 40%, and Filipino businessman Antonio Cojuangco’s TNR Holdings with 15.5%. F&S is buying its stake from AirAsia Philippines chair Marianne Hontiveros who will stay on in her position.

The Filipino airline is looking at a USD600 million valuation in the stockmarket debut, which is being readied for late 2019, Romero said, adding that the target was to raise at least USD200 million.

This would fund the acquisition of new aircraft and the carrier’s long-term operations in the Philippines, he added, with the aim of growing from twenty-three A320s to fifty aircraft in the next few years. Philippines AirAsia will receive five to ten Airbus aircraft from AirAsia Group each year, Reuters reported.

The carrier is seeking more slots at Manila Ninoy Aquino Int'l, while also planning to expand at secondary hubs such as Bacolod and Panglao to avoid congestion in Manila, Hontiveros said.