Philippines’ richest congressman Michael “Mikee” Romero is now the majority owner of the local affiliate of budget airline AirAsia.
Romero’s stake in the Philippine AirAsia was raised to 44.5%, higher than Malaysian AirAsia founder Tony Fernandes and partner’s 40%.
Romero acquired the AirAsia Philippines stakes of Ambassador Fred Yao and Maan Hontiveros. Romero, Yao, Hontiveros and businessman Antonio “Tonyboy” Cojuangco were the original Filipino owners when the local franchise of the Malaysia-based airline started operating in 2010.
Fernandez’s holdings is stuck at 40%, the limit set by the Philippine Constitution for foreign ownership in airlines.
Philippine AirAsia ownership structure:
Tony Fernandes and Kamarudin Menardum (AirAsia Berhad of Malaysia): from 40% to 40%
F&S Holdings Inc (Sps. Michael and Shiela Romero): from 15.7% to 44.5%
Amb. Fred Yao: from 13% to none
Maan Hontiveros: from 15.8% to none
TNR Holdings (Tonyboy Cojuangco): 15.7% to 15.7%
Romero says the opportunity to increase his stake in the airline came at a “good time” since the loss-making airline has already turned around. Gone were the days when it was poorly slugging it out against local giants Philippine Airlines of tycoon Lucio Tan and Cebu Pacific of tycoon John Gokongwei.
For almost a decade, Philippine AirAsia recalibrated its business, relocating its main hub from Clark to capital Manila where the airport has been bursting at the seams. As it enjoyed a breather, it also slowly expanded its local and international routes.
Romero was previously in the family ports business but divested after a family dispute. He then engaged in airline (Philippine AirAsia) sports (GlobalPort Batang Pier team owner), and later dabbled into politics.
He recently won a seat in Congress as representative of 1-Pacman, short for One Patriotic Coalition of Marginalized Nationals, a political party-list advocating for the marginalized and displaced sector in the country.
Romero has been listed as the richest lawmaker in the Lower House with a declared networth of Php7.3 billion as of 2017. Forbes has pegged his wealth at $135 million in the same year, the 47th richest in the country and among the youngest at mid-40’s.