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Tony Fernandes

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

CEO, AirAsia

Bought the company for 20p and turned it into a multi-million dollar venture

Named Forbes Asia Businessman of the Year (2010)

Tony Fernandes CBE is the CEO of AirAsia, a company he bought from the Malaysian government for the equivalent of 20p. The company came with over £10m worth of debt, and Tony made his move just days after 11th September 2001, arguably the worst day in the history of commercial aviation.

Creating opportunity from serious catastrophe, Tony capitalised on the crisis when aircraft leasing costs were down and layoffs meant that qualified staff were readily available. Within a year, the company had cleared its debts and broken even. He has since founded the Tune Group of companies.

Before AirAsia, Tony worked as the Financial Controller at Virgin Communications London from 1987-89 and Senior Financial Analyst at Warner Music International London from 1989 to 1992. He was then appointed as the Managing Director at Warner Music Malaysia in 1992 and Regional Managing Director, Asean in 1999 and Vice President, Asean at Warner Music South East Asia.

Tony is a Young Global Leader and the recipient of the International Herald Tribune award for the Visionaries & Leadership Series for his outstanding work at AirAsia. In December 2003, Tony was named Malaysian Chief Executive Officer of the Year 2003 by American Express and Business Times. In 2004, he was awarded the Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year – Malaysia 2003 Award by Ernst & Young, and was also named Asia Pacific Aviation Executive by the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) for the year of 2004-2005.

Our Comment

"Tony speaks passionately on the growing business market in India and South East Asia, and how business ideas can be implemented in such a fast-growing region. He believes that staff should be a business’s first priority, and that creativity and innovation are crucial. Tony has been been honoured by the King of Malaysia with the title Tan Sri, Dato' Sri and also by the government of France with the Legion d'Honneur Order"

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