Golden Skies Ventures, a privately-held Malaysian company, has made a USD2.5 billion offer to fully take over Malaysia Aviation Group, the holding company of Malaysia Airlines (MH, Kuala Lumpur Int'l), its executives told Reuters on April 6. The offer is bolstered by financing from a European bank, they added.

Golden Skies Ventures was established earlier this year by former Malaysia Airlines employees and private individuals, according to an earlier report by The Edge Malaysia online business newspaper.

It offered a capital injection of MYR11 billion ringgit (USD2.53 billion), including taking on most of the airline’s debt that is being held by the government in outstanding sukuks, or Islamic bonds, its chief executive Shahril Lamin told The Edge.

“[We have secured] in excess of USD2.5 billion from the bank. We will take about three to four months to get the long-term financing,” he confirmed to Reuters.

Lamin also claimed his company had a commitment from a Japanese private equity firm to inject immediate funds into Malaysia Aviation Group and that Golden Skies Ventures is negotiating with other non-Malaysian banks and private equity firms for further funding. He refused to name the companies involved.

The Malaysian government has long been seeking a strategic partner for the carrier. The move comes as the aviation group’s sole owner, Khazanah Nasional Bhd - the sovereign wealth fund of the government of Malaysia - reaffirmed its commitment to continue supporting Malaysia Airlines as the carrier provides for the “strategic needs” of the country during the crisis, the New Straits Times reported on April 6.

Golden Skies Ventures has submitted its proposal to Morgan Stanley, the investment bank hired by Khazanah Nasional, Lamin said. The proposal includes allowing the government to keep its majority voting rights, maintaining Malaysia Airlines' flag carrier status, and reinstating the airline as a premium long-haul carrier by expanding its network.

Subsidiaries will be kept intact, while listings “or a string of IPOs” would be pursued in three to five years.

“[The group] is still a viable venture. It has inherent strengths. We are saying we won’t lay off the 13,000 frontline employees and we are not going to asset-strip the airline,” Golden Skies Ventures' deputy CEO, Ravindran Devagunam, said.

“Regardless of how long [the coronavirus] will take this year, we are looking at an uptick in the business from summer 2021,” he added.