Malaysia's Employees Provident Fund (EPF) is no longer a substantial shareholder in AirAsia Group after disposing of 18.56 million shares on February 6, a Bursa Malaysia filing clarified on February 12.

The fund, a federal statutory body under the country's Ministry of Finance that manages savings and pensions, has been cutting its stake in the group in recent weeks. On February 6, the business daily Malaysian Reserve revealed that the EPF had disposed of 14.4 million shares.

As previously reported, AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes and chairman Kamarudin Meranun resigned from their respective roles for two months on February 3, following revelations on January 31 that Airbus had bribed two of the group's executives with USD50 million during a deal to buy 180 aircraft between 2005 and 2014.

A few days before this news broke, the EPF sold almost 8 million shares in the group, the business news site Focus Malaysia reported on February 12, hiving off 7.44 million and 492,500 shares on the open market on January 28 and 29, respectively. That left a 6.3% stake in its hands. The sell-off continued during the ensuing week.

However, fund managers told Focus Malaysia that it was more likely the move was initiated because the EPF was nervous about the impact of the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak.

By the end of trading on February 12, AirAsia shares were down 20% from January 28, wiping around MYR1 billion (USD242 million) off its market capitalisation during the period.