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Mahathir weighs proposals for Malaysia Airlines

Kuala Lumpur

THE government is studying proposals it received for Malaysia Airlines Bhd, said Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.

The four proposals were mostly from local companies, which offered to either buy a stake in the flag carrier or to manage it, he told reporters near Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday. He didn't name the companies that sent in the proposals.

"We must find somebody with experience," Dr Mahathir said.

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Malaysia is considering ways to turn around the troubled airline. Sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional Bhd, its sole shareholder, demanded the carrier to come up with a strategic plan earlier this year, after the fund poured RM6 billion (S$1.97 billion) into the company to make it profitable.

Privately held Weststar Group and Jentayu Danaraksa Sdn were among suitors for Malaysia Airlines, Edge newspaper reported earlier, without saying where it got the information.

The carrier still faces the possibility of being shut down as the government seeks to save money, Dr Mahathir said in parliament on Wednesday.

He wanted the company to recover and keep "Malaysia" in its name, he said, but turning the company around without laying off staff, a key issue for the government, is difficult. BLOOMBERG