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AirAsia founder's Tune Group considers selling insurance holding

[SINGAPORE] Tune Group Sdn, the investment firm backed by AirAsia Holdings Bhd founder Tony Fernandes, is considering selling its shares in a Malaysian insurance venture.

Tune Group's review of its stake in Tune Ins Holdings Bhd is at a preliminary stage, group chief executive officer Tan Hong Kheng said in an e-mailed response to questions on Friday. It is the largest shareholder in Tune Ins with a 16.6 per cent holding, worth about US$62 million based on its current price, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

The company is working with Credit Suisse Group AG on the potential sale, people with knowledge of the matter said, asking not to be identified as the information is private. Tune Ins sells general and life insurance across Asia and has an exclusive agreement with AirAsia, Southeast Asia's largest budget carrier by market value, where insurance is sold to travelers when they book tickets online.

The group has held discussions with an international investment bank on the review, Mr Tan said, declining to name the firm. Noel Cheung, a Hong Kong-based spokeswoman for Credit Suisse, said she couldn't immediately comment.

Tune Group "constantly" assesses ways to optimise the value of its shareholdings and invest in new ventures such as Internet companies, crowdfunding and the Tune Labs incubator and accelerator programs, according to Mr Tan. Where Tune Group and its AirAsia subsidiary have direct stakes in the same company, the group will continue to participate in those businesses through AirAsia, he said. AirAsia owns 13.7 per cent of Tune Ins, the Bloomberg-compiled data show.

Shares of Tune Ins have risen 8.2 per cent this year, giving it a market value of 1.38 billion ringgit (S$499 million), while the benchmark FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI Index has fallen 0.9 per cent. The company raised US$93 million in its initial public offering in February 2013.

Tune Group has businesses including hotels and an English soccer team.