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Malaysian Air Jumps on Suggested Stake Sale: Kuala Lumpur Mover

Aug. 14 (Bloomberg) -- Malaysian Airline System Bhd., the country’s loss-making flag carrier, surged the most in three months after a minister was quoted as saying the government should sell its stake at the right price.

The airline jumped 7.9 percent to close at 34 sen in Kuala Lumpur, the most since May 13. It was the most-active stock on the Malaysian bourse today, with more than 270 million shares changing hands. The benchmark FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI Index fell 0.1 percent.

The government should stay out of the airline business, Idris Jala, a minister in the prime minister’s department and formerly chief executive officer at the carrier, said at a conference yesterday, the Star newspaper reported. Jala later clarified in a statement that the government has no current plan to sell the stake, held through state investment fund Khazanah Nasional Bhd., it said.

“It’s not the right time to do it,” Mohshin Aziz, a Kuala Lumpur-based analyst at Malayan Banking Bhd., said in a phone interview. “You need to repair the business first, make it stable, only then you can get good value.”

Malaysian Air has slumped 32 percent over the past year, while the benchmark has risen 8.5 percent. Budget carrier AirAsia Bhd. has fallen 13 percent during the same period.

The national carrier has made losses in seven of past nine quarters, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Its first-quarter 2013 loss widened after passenger fares declined and costs increased, the carrier said in May. The company is due to report second-quarter earnings by the end of this month.

The carrier completed a rights issue in June to raise as much as 3.1 billion ringgit ($947 million), according to an exchange filing.

To contact the reporter on this story: Chong Pooi Koon in Kuala Lumpur at pchong17@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anand Krishnamoorthy at anandk@bloomberg.net

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