Philippine Airlines Hires Morgan Stanley to Help Find Investors

Philippine Airlines Inc. hired Morgan Stanley to help look for an investor as it seeks to become a five-star carrier, President Jaime Bautista said.

The airline, wholly owned by billionaire Lucio Tan, plans to find a “specific equity investor” as early as next year, Bautista told reporters in Manila. “There are on-going talks with possible investors,” he said, without elaborating.

Asia’s oldest carrier prefers a buyer with experience in running airlines so it can help in managing its fleet, though the company remains open to private equity funds and other strategic investors, Bautista said. The Philippine Air chief said in March the airline is seeking a five-star rating in five years from a three-star rating, making the airline more attractive to investors. Tan had said in 2015 they’re in talks with possible investors.

Philippine Air is modernizing its fleet through cabin reconfiguration and refurbishments and is looking to expand to new markets, Bautista said. The airline, which “sees profit despite overcapacity in the industry,” aims to lift its load factor to mid-70 percent from 70 percent currently, he said. Load factor refers to a measure of plane occupancy.

Shares of PAL Holdings Inc., Philippine Air’s parent company, closed unchanged at 4.80 pesos Thursday.