Skift Take

Japan Airlines' road to its IPO is paved with very angry former creditors, competitors angry about perceived preferential treatment from the government, and employees who were forced to make concessions.

Japan Airlines, which was bailed out by the government and removed from the Tokyo stock market, has set the indicative price range for a relisting that is expected to be the second biggest share sale this year after Facebook’s $16 billion initial public offering.

The shares will be priced between 3,500 yen and 3,790 yen ($44.51 and $48.20) each, JAL said Thursday. That would put the value of the 175 million shares to be sold next month at up to (663 billion yen) $8.44 billion.

Japan’s once-proud flagship carrier, which competes against All Nippon Airways at home, filed for one of the country’s biggest-ever bankruptcies in January 2010, receiving a 350 billion yen government-orchestrated bailout.

The carrier has since trimmed routes, cut more than a third of its payroll, and entered the low-cost carrier business. It recently returned to profitability.

Founded in 1951, JAL came to symbolize the country’s rapid economic growth. The state-owned airline expanded quickly in the decades after World War II and was privatized in 1987.

But it soon became the victim of its own ambitions and Japan’s economic malaise, saddled with soaring pension and payroll costs and a network of unprofitable domestic routes it was politically obligated to maintain.

Staggering under a $25.6 billion mountain of debt due to pension obligations and high costs, the iconic carrier applied for bankruptcy in 2010. It ended up with a market capitalization of about 13.7 billion yen ($150 million) — about the price of one Boeing 787 jet.

The government provided several bailouts for JAL and after it declared bankruptcy, asked foreign governments to cooperate in keeping it flying around the world.


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Tags: ipo, japan airlines

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