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January 14, 2010

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Investors rush to dump JAL

SHARES in Japan Airlines Corp nosedived 81 percent to just 7 yen (8 US cents) yesterday amid expectations the money-losing airline will file for bankruptcy protection as soon as next week and be removed from the stock exchange.

Investors dumped shares in the airline, known as JAL, with the stock plunging 30 yen - the maximum one-day decline allowed in JAL's stock - from Tuesday's finish of 37 yen.

Asia's biggest airline is set to file for bankruptcy protection as early as January 19, with its shares to be removed from the Tokyo bourse, Japan's top business daily Nikkei and the major daily Asahi said.

"Investors are rushing to unload JAL shares before they become worthless. The reports that JAL could be delisted sparked massive selling," said Masatoshi Sato, market analyst at Mizuho Investors Securities Co Ltd.

Trading volume for JAL stood at 823 million shares, over a quarter of yesterday's total volume of 3.1 billion shares on the Tokyo Stock Exchange's first section.

Following JAL's bankruptcy filing, JAL President Haruka Nishimatsu is to resign, according to reports.

The body responsible for JAL's restructuring has reportedly asked Kazuo Inamori, founder of electronics component maker Kyocera Corp, to head JAL during the restructuring.

Inamori met officials from the Enterprise Turnaround Initiative Corp of Japan yesterday.

He said he was confident the airline could return to a solid footing. "JAL can restructure. If the government asks me, I will positively consider it," Inamori told reporters after the meeting.

While the airline is on the brink of bankruptcy, its access to Asia is a prized asset for other airlines.


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