Mexicana Pilots, Local Investor Group Buy Mexican Airline in Bankruptcy

A group of Mexican investors called Tenedora K purchased a 95 percent stake in Nuevo Grupo Aeronautico SA, the holding company for the airline Compania Mexicana de Aviacion.

Tenedora K will be the majority owner, while the country’s pilots’ union holds 5 percent, according to an Aug. 20 statement. The Mexican companies Grupo Industrial Omega SA and Grupo Arizan are among the investors in Tenedora K, according to the statement, and the sellers included Grupo Posadas SAB, Mexico’s largest hotel operator.

Mexicana, Mexico’s biggest airline by passengers, filed for protection from creditors in Mexico and under Chapter 15 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code on Aug. 3 after executives said they had failed to reach cost-saving agreements with labor unions. The Chapter 15 petition lists more than $500 million in assets and $1 billion in debt. Chapter 15 protection bars U.S. creditors from seizing planes or cancelling contracts.

The purchase by Tenedora K which was formed to purchase Mexicana, was “the first step in order to establish the conditions that will eventually allow for a process of restructuring that will require coming to financial, operative and labor agreements,” the investor group said in the statement.

Mexicana Chief Executive Officer Manuel Borja Chico left his post on Aug. 20, and Tenedora K named a new company director, said Fernando Perfecto, secretary general of the pilots’ union. Perfecto declined to identify the new director or disclose the terms of the sale, saying this information would be announced Aug. 25. The statement from Tenedora K didn’t reveal the amount of the sale.

Sales Suspended

Andres Rozental, president of the board of Grupo Industrial Omega, confirmed in an Aug. 21 e-mail that his company is one of the investors, and that Tenedora K owns 95 percent of Nuevo Grupo Aeronautico. Grupo Arizan didn’t return a call seeking comment.

Mexicana spokesman Adolfo Crespo declined to comment.

Private equity group Advent International Corp. helped arrange the deal, and isn’t investing in Mexicana, Perfecto said. Advent’s office in Mexico City didn’t answer calls made by Bloomberg outside usual business hours.

Grupo Posadas, in an Aug. 20 statement, said it had sold its 30 percent stake in Nuevo Grupo Aeronautico.

Mexicana was ordered on Aug. 18 by a bankruptcy judge to resolve a dispute with U.S. airports and pay fuel, food and other charges within a week to keep U.S. creditors at bay. International airports in Denver, Dallas, Miami and Sacramento, California, sought court permission to file claims against Mexicana if they don’t get “timely” payment of passenger facility charges.

The airline suspended ticket sales after its bankruptcy filing, Mexicana’s primary lender, Grupo Financiero Banorte SAB’s Banco Mercantil Del Norte unit, has said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jens Erik Gould in Mexico City at jgould9@bloomberg.net

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