Malaysian airline boss may buy Virgin Atlantic: report

LONDON (BestGrowthStock) – The chief executive of Malaysia’s AirAsia (AIRA.KL: ) is considering a possible takeover bid for British airline Virgin Atlantic (VA.UL: ), the Sunday Times newspaper reported.

Tony Fernandes, who runs Asia’s largest budget carrier by fleet size, has renewed his interest in the UK airline after previously considering and deciding against a bid, the newspaper said in an unsourced report.

Any deal could be worth up to 1 billion pounds ($1.54 billion), it said. No one at Virgin or AirAsia could immediately be reached for comment.

British billionaire Richard Branson has a 51 percent stake in the airline he founded in 1984. Singapore Airlines (SIAL.SI: ) paid 600 million pounds for a 49 percent stake in Virgin Atlantic in 2000.

The UK airline said earlier this month it had received several “lines of enquiry” about tie-ups with rivals after it hired Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE: ) to assess the aviation market.

It said the bank’s review was expected to last for several months and did not name those interested in a possible tie-up.

Increased competition from low-cost airlines, weak demand and high fuel prices have combined to squeeze many carriers in recent years.

The low-margin industry has gone through a period of rapid consolidation and analysts believe larger carriers such as Virgin Atlantic need partners to stay ahead of the competition.

(Reporting by Peter Griffiths; Editing by Ron Askew

Malaysian airline boss may buy Virgin Atlantic: report