KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 23): A Hong Kong businessman or more well known as a top poker player has taken a RM114 million bet on AirAsia Group Bhd.

Stanley Choi Chiu Fai took up a block of private placement of new AirAsia shares that raised his stake to 8.96% in the low-cost carrier via his private vehicle Positive Bloom Ltd, according to a filing with Bursa Malaysia yesterday.

He acquired 167.1 million AirAsia shares on Feb 18, raising his shareholding in the group to 332.5 million shares or an 8.96% stake.

Many are curious about this risk-taking businessman, who is willing to pump money into the ailing aviation industry.

Choi had served as a member of the senior management of various financial groups in Hong Kong, including as a director of Tung Tai Securities Co Ltd from September 2000 to July 2003.

Choi is the chairman of Hong Kong-listed International Entertainment Corp (IEC). IEC is an investment holding company that operates hotels and leases investment properties equipped with entertainment equipment in the Philippines. It operates through Hotel, Leasing, Live Events, and Football Club segments.

He also holds the chairmanship of Head & Shoulders Financial Group Ltd, according to the official website.

According to various news reports, Choi is currently embroiled in a scandal involving English football club Wigan Athletic. This was after a video surfaced last year in which comments from a senior figure in the sport suggested that the club's recent financial troubles might be entangled with a high-stakes bet.

In October, 2018, Choi's IEC bought Wigan Athletic.

Choi's IEC decided to sell Wigan Athletic to Next Leader Fund (NLF) — a company incorporated barely five months in the Cayman Islands in June of last year. Interestingly, Choi is also a majority shareholder of NLF.

In order to complete the takeover, it was reported that IEC gave a 12-month loan to NLF worth £28.77 million. On June 24, 2020, a businessman named Au Yeung Wai Kay replaced Choi as NLF's largest shareholder.

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