Business Times

Singapore firms to invest in SriLankan Airlines units

Top management from two top Singapore airline-related companies in which Singapore’s biggest investment arm, Temasek Holdings has major stakes, were in Colombo this week for discussions with SriLankan Airlines and government officials on investments in the local carrier and its subsidiary, officials said.

The delegation of 3-4 officials from Singapore Technologies Aerospace (ST Aerospace), one of the largest third-party, independent aviation repair and overhaul (MRO) companies in the world, and 3-4 officials from Singapore Airlines Terminal Services Ltd (SATS), Singapore’s leading provider of Gateway Services and Food Solutions, arrived on Wednesday for talks on a range of issues. The ST Aerospace team was led by a President (from one of the business units) while the SATS team was headed by a senior Vice President.

This follows a business trip to Singapore last month by Treasury Secretary Dr. P.B. Jayasundera and SriLankan Airlines Chairman Nishantha Wickremasinghe for discussions with Temasek Holdings, which has substantial stakes in ST Aerospace and SATS. In its August 15 edition, the Sunday Times exclusively reported that the government was hoping to persuade Temasek to invest in SriLankan Airlines and other loss-making state entitites.

“For the moment they (Singapore firms) are looking at involvement in units of Srilankan Airlines. Temasek may consider investing in the airline but that would be later,” one national airline source said.
He said the the two companies were looking at Srilankan Catering and the airline’s engineering unit. It has been already announced that a 20% stake in SriLankan Catering would be sold to the public.

“SATS is specialised in maintainance, repairs and overhauls and we would like them to take SriLankan Catering to the next level. In the case of ST Aerospace, we would like itsr technology and support to make the airline a top class engineering unit in addition to offering its services outside,” the source said, adding that the involvement would be both in terms of investment and transfer of technology.

“If SATS is involved in SriLankan Catering it would also create the credibility needed to entice any other investor,” the source said adding that the Singapore companies are looking at either a 50:50 joint venture or a smaller stake with a technology transfer process.

ST Aerospace provides defence and commercial customers a total aviation support system, having extensive capabilities in engineering and development, life cycle maintenance, materials and component supplies, refurbishment, customised modifications and upgrades.

SATS has over 60 years of operating experience and an emerging global presence. Its comprehensive scope of airlne services encompasses airfreight handling, passenger services, ramp handling, baggage handling, aviation security and aircraft interior cleaning, while the food solutions business comprises airline catering, food distribution and logistics, industrial catering, chilled and frozen food manufacturing as well as airline linen laundry.

It has a presence in 31 airports in nine countries in Asia while its expanding Food Solutions business has gone beyond Asia to the UK.

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