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Investor Group Buys 95% Stake in Compania Mexicana

Updated on

A group of Mexican investors purchased a 95 percent stake in Nuevo Grupo Aeronautico SA, the holding company for the airline Compania Mexicana de Aviacion. Terms weren’t disclosed.

Tenedora K said in an Aug. 20 statement it will be the majority owner, while the country’s pilots’ union holds 5 percent. 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 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, which bars U.S. creditors from seizing planes or canceling contracts, lists more than $500 million in assets and $1 billion in debt.

Tenedora K, which was formed to buy Mexicana, said the purchase 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.”

Fewer Flight Attendants

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 group may cut by half the size of the Compania Mexicana de Aviacion and MexicanaClick fleets, CNNExpansion reported, citing Lizette Clavel, head of the flight attendants’ union. That would mean lowering the number of flight attendants working for those airlines to 750 from 1,500, CNNExpansion said, citing Clavel.

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.

Adolfo Crespo, a spokesman for Mexicana, declined to comment.

Private-equity group Advent International Corp. helped arrange the deal, and isn’t investing in Mexicana, Perfecto said. Calls to Advent’s office in Mexico City weren’t answered.

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

U.S. Airport Dispute

Mexicana was ordered by a bankruptcy judge on Aug. 18 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 didn’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.

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