In May reports surfaced that Malaysia Airlines (MAS) will be laying off nearly 8,000 of its 20,000 employees. The airline hasn’t made a profit since 2008. The former head of Ireland’s Aer Lingus, Christoph Mueller, took control as the new CEO to to handle the restructuring. Mueller, the first foreigner to lead Malaysia’s national airline, was nicknamed “The Terminator” in Ireland – his German accent drew comparisons to Schwarzenegger in assassin-robot mode as he trimmed the workforce and played hardball with the Irish airline’s unions and returned the company to profitability.
Khazanah, Malaysia’s sovereign wealth fund, took MAS private last year in a US$ 430 million buyout. Aside from its newly acquired air carrier, Khazanah – the Malay word for “treasure” – has steadily grown its overseas investment portfolio over the past decade, with 40 percent of its assets now abroad as Malaysia faces pressure from a weakening currency and falling oil prices. The fund, which has US$ 40 billion in assets under management, announced in early 2015 that it would increase its investments in the US tech sector, after opening an office in San Francisco in 2013. Last year Khazanah reaped a US$1bn profit from its stake in Alibaba ahead of the Chinese e-commerce giant’s IPO.