JAL stocks returning to Tokyo Exchange

Japan Airlines, which exited bankruptcy only last year, is now having a stock offering to raise ¥663 billion.

The monster sale, which will see JAL stocks relisted on the ‘Tokyo Stock Exchange yesterday, will be the world’s second largest stock sale this year, behind Facebook.  The sale marks a dramatic turnaround for the Japanese airline, which went bankrupt and was stripped of its listing in early 2010.

But the overhauled carrier, recently touted as the world’s most profitable airline, received a huge government bailout and other concessions, drawing howls of protest from rivals including rival All Nippon Airways.  JAL, in filing its regulatory papers last week, said it’s aiming to sell 175 million shares at ¥3,790 per share—the top end of the previously announced range—resulting in proceeds of 663 billion yen. At the opening of Wednesday’s session the stock immediately rose by ¥20 to to ¥3,810.

That is nearly double the amount of public money spent to keep it afloat during a massive restructuring, with the offering’s proceeds expected to be used to pay back the government bailout.  The new shares in JAL, which saw its shares delisted after it went bankrupt in January 2010 with debts totaling ¥2.32 trillion, are scheduled to start trading on the Tokyo Stock Exchange on Sept 19th.

Last month, JAL pointed to improved financial health, saying net profit in the April-June quarter more than doubled to ¥26.9 billion. Cost-cutting and improved productivity were credited for the result, which was up from a ¥12.7 billion net profit a year ago. Revenue climbed 12.5% on the back of a pickup in international travel demand as a strong yen, which hit record highs against the dollar late last year, prompted more Japanese holidaymakers to venture overseas.

JAL, which continued to fly while in bankruptcy, implemented massive job and route cuts as part of its overhaul led by charismatic businessman Kazuo Inamori, who was brought in by the government to help turn the firm around. The airline has embarked on an ambitious expansion, saying earlier this year it ordered 10 new Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft as it looks to build on its recovery and fight off the threat from an emerging domestic budget carrier sector. The announcement, part of a five-year plan, was in addition to an earlier order for 35 of the Dreamliner planes. Built largely with lightweight composite materials, Boeing said the Dreamliner is about 20% more fuel efficient than similarly sized aircraft and was the first mid-size airplane able to fly long-range routes.