2001 was a tough time to be in the airline industry. Yet Tony Fernandes had just risked everything to relaunch an airline he’d bought for less than a dollar.
As the CEO of AirAsia slept in his office at Kuala Lumpur airport, with dreams of relaunching AirAsia as a budget airline, many questioned his timing, as much as his judgment.
Every other airline in the world was scaling back and cutting overheads, while AirAsia was cutting fares. None of the international banks were prepared to help him.
Except one. Credit Suisse's involvement with AirAsia began in 2002, with the 30 million US dollar private placement that would propel AirAsia not just into profit, but also into expansion, with more airplanes, new routes and a second hub at Senai International Airport.
The bank has been involved in all of the airline's deals ever since, including the 227 million dollar IPO of 2004, for which Credit Suisse was the sole international book runner. And in little over a decade, Credit Suisse has helped AirAsia grow into the largest low cost carrier in the whole of Asia, around million passengers a year and more than 80 destinations across Asia Australia and as far as Saudi Arabia.
What began with an initial investment of less than a dollar is now an airline group with a market cap of 2.1 billion dollars.
million USD were raised by its IPO in 2004, laying the ground for AirAsia’s unique growth story.
Credit Suisse has helped AirAsia grow into the largest low cost carrier in the whole of Asia, with around 45 million passengers a year and more than 80 destinations.
Credit Suisse was there from the start to help Tony Fernandes realize his dream of creating an Asian low cost airline so that “now everyone can fly.”
Credit Suisse and AirAsia have worked together for more than 10 years. Credit Suisse initially arranged the first capital raise of 30 million US dollars for AirAsia and over time has worked with them to finance their rapid growth through various capital market transactions as well as debt financing, commodity derivatives and other advisory roles. The relationship developed because Credit Suisse believed in AirAsia and its leadership team from the outset – over the years they have stuck by them through the good times and the challenges to help the business achieve its remarkable growth.
Role: Credit Suisse leveraged its deep presence in ASEAN to help AirAsia build its business and, through teamwork across the firm, brought product expertise to provide optimal solutions, as well as advising AirAsia to close positions that would have hurt them financially. AirAsia found a partner in Credit Suisse whose entrepreneurial culture matched their own – and the trust that developed has allowed each of the businesses to flourish with mutual benefit.
Results: Since pioneering the low-cost carrier model in ASEAN in 2001, AirAsia has grown from a Malaysian domestic airline to the largest low-cost carrier in Asia in terms of feet size and number of passengers carried.
Market View: AirAsia is now an ASEAN champion with global recognition. It has won multiple awards such as the World’s Best Low Cost Airline and AsiaMoney’s Best Managed Company and Tony Fernandes has developed into a globally respected business icon.
Future: Credit Suisse and the AirAsia leadership team continue to evolve their relationship from Low Cost carriers in ASEAN to the rest of Asia, and through AirAsia X to destinations further afield. Similarly, as their business diversifies to Caterham, QPR, F1, Tune and other interests, Credit Suisse continues to work closely with them to see these dreams be realized.