Japan Airlines to raise up to $8.4 bn in share sale

TOKYO — Japan Airlines said Thursday its relisting on Tokyo’s stock market could raise as much as $8.4 billion — a sum that would make it the second-biggest share sale globally this year after Facebook’s IPO.

By (AFP)

Published: Thu 30 Aug 2012, 5:52 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 11:07 AM

It is nearly double the amount of public money spent to keep it afloat during a massive restructuring and would represent a dramatic turnaround for the company less than three years after being forced into bankruptcy.

The proceeds would allow JAL to pay back the government bailout with its sale on track to be the second-biggest globally behind Facebook following the social networking giant’s $16.0 billion initial public offering in May.

The new shares in JAL, which went bankrupt in January 2010 and saw its shares delisted the following month with debts totalling 2.32 trillion yen, were scheduled to start trading on the Tokyo Stock Exchange on September 19.

On Thursday, the carrier said it would sell 175 million shares at a price between 3,500 yen and 3,790 yen.

The airline, which continued to fly during its time off the stock exchange, implemented massive job and route cuts as part of its overhaul.

The airline underwent an aggressive cost-cutting plan guided by charismatic businessman Kazuo Inamori, who was brought in by the government to help turn the firm around.

This month, the airline pointed to its improved financial health, saying net profit in the April-June quarter more than doubled to 26.9 billion yen.

Cost-cutting and improved productivity were credited by the company for the result, which was up from a 12.7 billion yen net profit a year ago.

Revenue climbed 12.5 percent on the back of a pickup in international travel demand as a strong yen, which hit record highs against the dollar late last year, prompted more Japanese holidaymakers to venture overseas.

Sales from domestic operations also improved as the market recovered from slumping demand after last year’s quake and tsunami disaster in northeast Japan.

The carrier kept its annual forecast unchanged, expecting a net profit of 130 billion yen in the fiscal year through March 2013.

The quarterly results were a major turnaround for the carrier, which exited bankruptcy proceedings in March last year.

When the carrier announced its latest financial results, JAL president Yoshiharu Ueki apologised to creditors and former shareholders who took a hit when the airline sought bankruptcy protection.

He also said the airline would be able to return the 350 billion in bailout money through the share offer.

Earlier this year, JAL said it had ordered 10 new Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft as it looks to build on its recovery and fight off the threat from an emerging domestic budget sector.

The announcement, part of a five-year plan, was in addition to an earlier order for 35 of the planes.

Built largely with lightweight composite materials, Boeing said the Dreamliner is about 20 percent more fuel efficient than similarly sized aircraft and was the first mid-size airplane able to fly long-range routes.

Japan’s major airlines were behind global players in terms of entry into the low-cost sector, but JAL’s main rival All Nippon Airways (ANA) last year set up budget airline Peach Aviation with a Hong Kong investment fund.

It was followed by JAL’s tie-up with Australia’s Qantas, which launched Jetstar Japan, while AirAsia Japan — a joint venture between ANA and Malaysia’s AirAsia — has also launched its lower-cost service.

Facebook shares have struggled since their much-hyped May 18 debut was plagued by technical glitches and complaints that key forecasts were kept from the public. The shares have fallen steadily since the initial public offering at $38 and are now hovering around $19 a share.

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