Fernandes at the 2011 British Grand Prix
Anthony Francis Fernandes
30 April 1964
|Education||Epsom College and Alice Smith School|
|Alma mater||London School of Economics|
|Occupation|| Group Chief Executive Officer of AirAsia Berhad |
Founder of Tune Group
Shareholder and Owner of Queens Park Rangers
Chairman of Petaling Jaya Rangers
|Net worth||US$335 million (2020)|
Anthony Francis Fernandes(born 30 April 1964) is a Malaysian entrepreneur. He is the founder of Tune Air Sdn. Bhd., who introduced the first budget no-frills airline, AirAsia, to Malaysians with the tagline "Now everyone can fly". Fernandes managed to turn AirAsia, a failing government-linked commercial airline, into a highly successful budget airline public-listed company. He has since founded the Tune Group of companies. He is also the majority shareholder of Queens Park Rangers Football Club. He is the owner of Caterham Group, the parent company of British car manufacturer Caterham Cars.
He was also instrumental in lobbying the then-Malaysian Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad in mid-2003, to propose the idea of open skies agreements with neighbouring Thailand, Indonesia, and Singapore. As a result, these nations have granted landing rights to AirAsia and other discount carriers.
As of February 2014, Forbes Asia valued Fernandes' net worth at $650 million, ranking him at number 28 on the Forbes list of Malaysia's Richest.
He is also an Overseas Citizen of India, owing to his partial Indian ancestry.
Fernandes was born in Kuala Lumpur on 30 April 1964 to a Goan fatherand a mother of mixed Indian (Malayali ) and Asian-Portuguese (Kristang) descent who had been raised in Malacca, Malaysia. At a young age, he would follow his mother who sold Tupperware at Tupperware parties.
He was educated at The Alice Smith School in Kuala Lumpur. Starting at age 12, from 1976 to 1983, he studied at Epsom College boarding school in England.He matriculated to the London School of Economics and graduated with a degree in accounting.
He worked very briefly with Virgin Atlantic as an auditor [ citation needed ], subsequently becoming the financial controller for Richard Branson's Virgin Communications in London from 1987 to 1989 before he joined Warner Music International London as Senior Financial Analyst.
Fernandes was admitted as Associate Member of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) in 1991 and became Fellow Member in 1996. He is currently a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW).
Fernandes was formerly a Warner Music executive in Malaysia,and Vice President, ASEAN at Warner Music South East Asia from December 1999 to July 2001.
When Time Warner announced its merger with America Online, Fernandes left to pursue his dream of starting a budget no-frills airline.
In September 2001, Fernandes purchased AirAsia and became its chief executive.
It was through Datuk Pahamin A. Rejab, the former secretary-general of the Malaysian Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry that Fernandes came to meet with then Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad in October 2001.
Instead of starting from scratch, Mahathir advised Fernandes to buy an existing airline.AirAsia, the heavily indebted subsidiary of the Malaysian government-owned conglomerate, DRB-Hicom, was losing money. Fernandes mortgaged his home and used his personal savings to acquire the company, comprising two Boeing 737-300 jet aircraft and debts of US$11 million (RM40 million), for one ringgit (about 26 US cents), and transformed it into an industry player. One year after his takeover, AirAsia had broken even and cleared all its debts. Its initial public offering (IPO) in November 2004 was oversubscribed by 130 per cent.
Fernandes says his timing was in fact perfect: after the 11 September 2001 attacks at New York City and Washington, D.C., aircraft leasing costs fell 40%. Also, airline lay-offs meant experienced staff were readily available. He believed Malaysian travellers would embrace a cut-rate air service that would save them time and money, especially in a tight economy. Fernandes estimates about 50 per cent of the travellers on Asia’s budget airlines are first-time flyers.[ citation needed ] Before the advent of AirAsia, he estimated that only six per cent of Malaysians had ever travelled by air.
Fernandes' biggest achievement was to open up countries within the region to new budget carriers, which previously did not have open-skies agreements.As a result of Fernandes' lobbying in mid-2003, Dr Mahathir brought up the idea with leaders from neighbouring countries. Those nations subsequently granted landing rights to AirAsia and other discount carriers.
In Thailand and Indonesia, AirAsia holds a minority stake in the respective local companies. Thai AirAsia, a joint venture with Shin Corporation, Thailand’s largest telecommunication conglomerate, took to the skies in Feb 2004 and has to date carried over 1 million passengers in its first year of operations. PT Awair, re-launched as a low fare airline on 8 December 2004 and subsequently renamed Indonesia AirAsia, presently serves 5 domestic destinations in Indonesia.[ citation needed ]
In 2018 Fernandes announced that more low-cost carrier terminals would be developed,and confirmed that while AirAsia needed new planes, he had not yet decided on an aircraft manufacturer.
Fernandes’ plans to expand include bidding on the operations and maintenance contract for Clark International Airport in the Philippines.
In February 2020, Fernandes step aside as CEO of AirAsia as Airbus bribery allegations probed.A month later, Fernandes was reinstated as CEO of AirAsia after the Airbus bribery allegations probe was cleared by Britain's Serious Fraud Office of any wrongdoing.
In 2007, Fernandes started a hotel chain, Tune Hotels, based on the no frills concept. It has properties in Britain, Australia and the Far East.
In March 2012, he served on the International Advisory Board of Global March to Jerusalem, which aims to "mobilize the international community in solidarity with Palestinians and to protect Jerusalem."A joint statement was issued, signed by the various members of the Board, including Fernandes.
In 2013, he hosted the first season of The Apprentice Asia, the Asian spin-off of the reality game show The Apprentice, in which a group of aspiring young businessmen and women compete for the chance to work with Fernandes.However, his role will be replaced by Founder, Chairman, and CEO of ONE Championship, Chatri Sityodtong for the second season in 2021.
In 2018, he was named the head of Malaysia Stadium Corporation (MSC) by the Malaysian Youth and Sports Ministry.
In 2020, he ventured to food delivery as Covid-19 has hit hard on Air Asia.
Fernandes is the founder of the Caterham F1 Formula One team, which began racing in 2010 as Lotus Racing and raced in 2011 as Team Lotus. On 2 July 2014, Caterham F1 was sold to a Swiss and Middle Eastern consortium.
On 16 December 2009, Fernandes accepted a "challenge" from Richard Branson, a fellow airline boss and the owner of Lotus' fellow F1 newcomers Virgin Racing. The losing team's boss would work on the winner's airline for a day dressed as a stewardess. Fernandes joked "The sexier the better. Our passengers will be delighted to be served by a Knight of the Realm, but knowing Richard, the real challenge will be to prevent him from asking our guests 'coffee, tea or me?' That would be scary."In addition, the team produced a poster depicting Branson in an Air Asia uniform. However, the date of the flight was delayed several times: first because of Branson breaking his leg, then because of the royal wedding, finally because of a fire at the Necker Island. On 19 December 2012, Fernandes announced that Branson would honour his bet in May 2013. Branson ultimately honoured the bet on 13 May 2013.
Caterham Racing, also created by Fernandes, competes in the GP2 Series.
On 27 April 2011, Fernandes announced that his company had purchased Caterham Cars.
Fernandes is a fan of English club West Ham United and was involved in talks regarding a potential takeover of the club in May 2011, at which stage it looked as if he was going to acquire a 51 per cent stake in the club. Former West Ham chairman Andrew Bernhardt even flew to Kuala Lumpur to try and finalise the deal, but the two parties failed to agree on the price.It was just one month later when Fernandes made another offer to buy 51 per cent of the club, although co-owners David Sullivan and David Gold rejected his bid. Sullivan told the Evening Standard : "He wanted 51% of the club for two bob." Sullivan's comments started a war of words on Twitter. "It was a good offer with good money and brought in good people," said Fernandes. "Gold and Sullivan can say whatever they want. I have been a lifelong fan and would have brought good money, good ideas, new people and a new belief. As for PR stunts. Wow. They are always in the press making huge claims. Were we not supposed to be in Europe. Now we have been relegated. Two sacked managers. All good players will be sold. No new training ground which is the most important ingredient I feel. Look at how many injuries we have. And more investment into the academy."
On 18 August 2011, just three months after Queens Park Rangers' promotion back to the Premier League following a 15-year absence, Fernandes was unveiled as their majority shareholder, having bought Bernie Ecclestone's 66% stake. He was also named as chairman of QPR Holdings Ltd.
While Neil Warnock remained as the club's manager for their return to the top-flight, a run of eight Premier League games without a win eventually led to his sacking.Mark Hughes was quickly named as his replacement, signing a two-and-a-half-year deal in the process. Despite their new manager, QPR's poor run of form continued, which left them fighting for Premier League survival on the final day of the 2011-2012 season. Relegation rivals Bolton Wanderers needed a win to have any chance of survival, but could only muster a draw with Stoke City, meaning QPR were safe, despite losing 3-2 to Manchester City after Sergio Agüero's injury-time winner - a goal which stole the Premier League title from arch-rivals Manchester United on goal difference.
Mark Hughes led the club into the 2012-2013 season, but after just four points from 12 games and without a single win - one of the worst starts in Premier League history - Fernandes dismissed Hughes.Fernandes hired former Tottenham Hotspur manager Harry Redknapp on 24 November 2012, but even he was unable to solve QPR's problems. Following a goalless draw with relegation rivals Reading on 28 April 2013, both teams were relegated to the Championship.
Speaking to the media just one week after Rangers' relegation back to the Championship, Fernandes said he had been exploited since he took over at Loftus Road. After investing an estimated £50 million into the club, he said: "I don't think I will be exploited any more. I think I allowed myself to be exploited but that's my choice. Agents are trying to get the best contracts and there are no two ways about it, I had to pay premiums. I've seen all of the parts that make football quite - maybe immoral is a strong word - but they would sell their grandmother to do something. It's all part of the football ecosystem."
In 2013 Fernandes noted in an interview that he would leave the club if he was unable to “fix” their problems.In a 2017 interview, after a year in the Premier league in 2014-15 and three years relegated to the Championship league from 2015–18, Fernandes admitted having made several mistakes, but also noted that much had been achieved. He restored the former QPR badge and colours and engaged more with the community near Loftus Road. In August 2018, Fernandes noted that his tenure was “fast coming to a close”. ”. He planned to step down and hand over the position of co-chairman to vice chairman Amit Bhatia, a change finalised on 15 August 2018.
Fernandes has received several awards for his achievements:
On 14 October 2017, Fernandes married a South Korean actress, Chloe, at Hotel Cap Estel, in Èze on the French Riviera after having dated her for more than two years.
He was previously married to Deborah Lee Bergstrom on 1 June 1994 and separated. They had a daughter and a son, Stephanie and Stephen.
Fernandes revealed in an interview with Free Malaysia Today in September 2016 that he does not speak Malay,stating that he can understand but can't speak it very well.
On November 2020, he sold an Ayrshire estate in Scotland for £2.5 million (S$4.45 million), as the Covid-19 pandemic has taken a toll on airlines worldwide.
Queens Park Rangers Football Club, commonly abbreviated to QPR, is an English professional football club based in White City, London. The club currently competes in the EFL Championship, the second tier of English football. They were founded in 1886 after the merger of Christchurch Rangers and St Judes Institute, although their official founding date is 1882 which is when Christchurch Rangers were first formed. In the early years after the club's formation in its original home of Queen's Park, London, they played their home games at many different grounds, until finally the club settled into its current location at Loftus Road, renamed Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium at the beginning of the 2019/20 season.
Sir Richard Charles Nicholas Branson is an English business magnate, investor, and author. In the 1970s he founded the Virgin Group, which today controls more than 400 companies in various fields.
Malaysia Airlines Berhad (MAB), formerly known as Malaysian Airline System (MAS), branded as Malaysia Airlines is the flag carrier airline of Malaysia and a member of the oneworld airline alliance. The company headquarters are located at Kuala Lumpur International Airport. In August 2014, the Malaysian government's sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional—which then owned 69.37% of the airline—announced its intention to purchase remaining ownership from minority shareholders and de-list the airline from Malaysia's stock exchange, thereby renationalising the airline. It operates primarily from Kuala Lumpur International Airport and from secondary hubs in Kota Kinabalu and Kuching to destinations throughout Asia, Oceania, and Europe.
AirAsia Berhad is a Malaysian low-cost airline headquartered near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It is the largest airline in Malaysia by fleet size and destinations. AirAsia Group operates scheduled domestic and international flights to more than 165 destinations spanning 25 countries. Its main base is klia2, the low-cost carrier terminal at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) in Sepang, Selangor, Malaysia. Its affiliate airlines Thai AirAsia, Indonesia AirAsia, Philippines AirAsia, and AirAsia India have bases in Bangkok–Don Mueang, Jakarta–Soekarno-Hatta, Manila–Ninoy Aquino, and Bangalore–Kempegowda airports respectively, while its sister airline, AirAsia X, focuses on long-haul routes. AirAsia's registered office is in Petaling Jaya, Selangor while its head office is at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
Michael Gascoyne is a British Formula One designer and engineer.
Joseph Anthony Barton is an English professional football manager and former player who played as a midfielder. He made 269 appearances in the Premier League, including 130 for Manchester City. He is currently the manager of League One side Bristol Rovers.
AirAsia X Berhad, operating as AirAsia X, is a long-haul budget airline based in Malaysia, and a sister company of AirAsia. It commenced operations on 2 November 2007 with its first service flown from Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Malaysia, to Gold Coast Airport in Australia. AirAsia X flies to destinations within Asia, Australia, and the United States of America. The airline operates a fleet of 24 Airbus A330-300 aircraft. Indonesia AirAsia X and Thai AirAsia X are affiliated with AirAsia X.
Amit Bhatia is a British-Indian businessman. He is the founding partner of Swordfish Investments and chairman of Queens Park Rangers football club.
Team Lotus, originally Lotus Racing, was a Malaysian licensed Formula One racing team and constructor, based in Hingham, Norfolk, UK, which competed during the 2010 and 2011 Formula One seasons. The team scored no championship points in the two years it competed.
Riad Asmat is a Malaysian businessman. He is the son of Perodua Chairman Tan Sri Datuk Asmat Kamaludin. He is the former CEO of the Caterham F1 Team and Team Principal of the Caterham Racing GP2 team. Tony Fernandes and fellow shareholders Kamarudin Meranun and SM Nasarudin later promoted Asmat to Group CEO of Caterham Group for Caterham F1 Team, Caterham Cars, Caterham Racing, merchandising, engineering and all related interests.
Virgin Racing was a Formula One racing team which was under management of Manor Motorsport, Wirth Research and Richard Branson's Virgin Group which competed in Formula One in 2010 and 2011. It scored no points and finished last in the Constructor's Championship for the two years the team competed.
Tune Group Sdn Bhd is a leisure and entertainment corporation founded by the Malaysian entrepreneurs Tony Fernandes and Kamarudin Meranun. Tune Group's mission is to provide affordability and accessibility to leisure activities and entertainment, primarily in Asian markets. It does this via its airline, hotel, telecommunication, financial services, sports, media and creative industries subsidiaries. Its subsidiaries include: budget airline Air Asia; Caterham Group, a motor engine-based technology company, through which it formerly owned the Caterham F1 Team; and Queens Park Rangers, an English football club. Tune Group was the official shirt sponsor of FA match officials until 2013.
Caterham Racing, formerly EQ8 Caterham Racing and Caterham Team AirAsia was a motor racing team competing in the GP2 Series and GP2 Asia Series. It was created by Tony Fernandes, who was also responsible for the revival of the Lotus name in Formula 1 in 2010 with the creation of the Lotus Racing team. Team AirAsia was officially accepted to the GP2 Series grid on 21 September 2010, along with fellow debutants Carlin Motorsport, filling the gap left by the departures of Durango and DPR. The team made their debut at the first round of the 2010–11 GP2 Asia Series.
The Caterham Group was formally announced on 27 November 2011 at the Brazilian F1 Grand Prix. Caterham Group, formerly known as Team Lotus Enterprise (TLE) is the holding company incorporated in the UK and owned by Tony Fernandes, Kamarudin Meranun and SM Nasarudin that provides the platform for the future expansion of the Caterham brand across a variety of industries. Caterham Group is the parent company name for the range of automotive, motor racing, technology and innovation companies that sit within a single group business under the stewardship of Group CEO Riad Asmat. Graham Mcdonald is new Group CEO taking over Riad Asmat position.
Philippines AirAsia, Inc. is a low-cost airline based at Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Metro Manila in the Philippines. The airline is the Philippine affiliate of AirAsia, a low-cost airline based in Malaysia. The airline started as a joint venture among three Filipino investors and AirAsia Investments Ltd., a subsidiary of AirAsia Berhad.
AirAsia Japan Co., Ltd was the name of two incarnations of a Japanese low-cost airline, which had operated as a joint venture between AirAsia of Malaysia and Japanese partners.
The Caterham F1 Team was a Malaysian, later British owned Formula One team based in the United Kingdom which raced under a Malaysian licence. The Caterham brand competed in the Formula One World Championship from 2012 to 2014, following the acquisition of British sportscar manufacturer Caterham Cars by former owner and team principal Tony Fernandes, forming the Caterham Group.
Cyril Francois Roger Abiteboul is a French motor racing engineer and manager. From 2013 to 2014 he was the team principal of Caterham Formula One team, and was the managing director of the Renault F1 Team from 2014 to 2020.
Petaling Jaya Rangers Football Club or PJ Rangers is a professional football club based in Petaling Jaya, Selangor. Founded in 2011, the club's home ground has been in multiple different stadiums before moving to AirAsia Stadium in Petaling Jaya.
Ruben Emir Gnanalingam is a Malaysian businessman.
My father was an Indian citizen, a doctor. He was from Goa... [...] My mother was a Malaysian from Malacca — Ena Fernandez. They both had the same surname — one with “z”, one with “s”.
'My mother was a Fernandez as well, with a ‘z’, and her ancestors were Malyalee', he says.
At the age of six, he began his career playing the piano for guests at the sales parties hosted by his mother. Raised in Malacca of mixed Portuguese-Asian descent, his mother was an entrepreneurial-minded music teacher who launched the Tupperware direct-marketing business in Malaysia.
Funded by his mother’s Tupperware sales, Fernandes flew to England at the age of 12 for boarding school at Surrey’s Epsom College, where he spent more time on sports than study.
AirAsia's brand image is closely tied with its chief executive, Malaysian entrepreneur Tony Fernandes, who took over operations in 2001. Almost always in jeans and an Air Asia cap when interviewed, Mr Fernandes was seen as Malaysia's answer to Richard Branson.
Mr Fernandes bought Air Asia from a Malaysian government-owned company in September 2001 for a mere 25 pence.
He gives three reasons why it's a long shot, and says his response to an impromptu question was blown out of proportion.
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