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May 27, 2017

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TransAsia shares rally to daily upper limit

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- TransAsia Airways' share prices surged Monday to the daily upper limit of 10 percent as investors held hopes that Far Eastern Air Transport Corp. (FAT) would step in to help the financially troubled TransAsia restructure its business, dealers said.

The China Post first broke the news of FAT's plans to acquire TransAsia on Dec. 12.

TransAsia stocks closed at the session's high of NT$1.08 amid robust buying sentiment fueled by an alleged buyout plan of another local airline company.

The rally came after the company's share price had plunged to its daily floor limit for 10-odd trading sessions in the wake of a dissolution announcement issued by the company's top management on Nov. 22 and the subsequent retrieval of flight rights by the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA).

Buying orders for TransAsia shares poured in soon after the local bourse opened Monday morning, with as many as 33.326 million shares changing hands in the session.

The buying spree was triggered by news that FAT is actively negotiating with TransAsia's debtor banks over reorganizing TransAsia into "FAT United Airlines" and hiring at least 1,000 TransAsia employees.

Nevertheless, whether the rally will be only a flash in the pan remains to be seen, as the Taiwan Stock Exchange Corp. (TWSE) will hold a board of directors meeting Tuesday, Dec. 20 to deliberate on TransAsia's delisting. Debtor banks have reportedly shown little interest in reorganizing TransAsia.

Nevertheless, Chairman Lee Ruey-tsang of the Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) said at a Legislative Yuan Finance Committee session that regardless of whether TransAsia is eventually be reorganized, the firm's listing on the local stock market would "surely be terminated."

FAT Integration Plan

If the TWSE's board of directors approves the delisting of TransAsia shares, the company will be officially delisted from the local bourse after the end of a 40-day observation period, Lee said.

Lee said the FSC would be glad to see the positive development of the FAT's integration plan, as it would help address TransAsia's issues.

But he also noted that FAT should first submit the plan to the CAA for approval, adding that the FSC can render necessary assistance if required by the CAA.

When asked to comment on the bank's apparent reluctance to accept FAT's plan, Lee said further negotiations could be carried out between both sides. But whether the plan is confirmed by FAT remained to be seen, and it was therefore too early to assess whether the plan was feasible, Lee said.

No Comment from Transportation Minister

Transportation Minister Hochen Dan (賀陳旦) said he is in no position to say whether he supported FAT's plan to seek reorganization of TransAsia. "It's inappropriate for me to make any comment on the individual assets management case, as the comment would be easily mistaken for my evaluation on an individual company."

Hochen continued that what mattered now for his ministry was to better safeguard the service interests of airline passengers and the redistribution and management of TransAsia's flight routes.

The minister said that corporate reorganization involved specific legal procedures, adding that his ministry is willing to allow pluralistic opportunities for TransAsia issues to be tackled.

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