Shares in budget carrier AirAsia Bhd tumbled more than 8 percent to a five-year low on Wednesday on investor concerns that it may miss a deadline to raise equity in its Indonesian affiliate to avoid the unit's operations being suspended.
PT Indonesia AirAsia, 49 percent-owned by AirAsia, was one of 13 airlines found to have "negative equity" by Indonesia's transport ministry. The unit of Asia's biggest low-cost carrier has until the end of the month to raise at least $230 million to reverse the shareholder funds deficit, according to analysts.
The move by Indonesia's transport ministry comes in the wake of questions raised by a Hong Kong research firm about how AirAsia books transactions with affiliates in its accounts.
The stock fell to 1.37 ringgit, its lowest point since July 23, 2010, while shares in its long-haul arm, AirAsia X, fell as much as 4.9 percent. The benchmark index was down 1 pct.
AirAsia said on Tuesday it would seek a meeting with Indonesia's transport ministry. It did not respond to Reuters request for comment on Wednesday.
Despite the sharp slide in AirAsia shares, analysts were skeptical that a suspension will ultimately be applied to the 13 carriers affected.
Mohshin Aziz, an analyst with Maybank Kim Eng, said the deadline was too soon and there would likely be negotiations between the airlines and the Indonesian government.
"This ruling is so onerous, chances are all 13 airlines will be suspended so thousands of jobs will be lost. No government in the world wants that," he said