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Gol Gains Most in a Month on Report of Qatar Airways Talks

Gol Linhas Aereas Inteligentes SA jumped the most in a month after a report that it’s in talks with Qatar Airways Ltd. added to speculation the Brazilian carrier is planning an asset sale or merger to lower the industry’s highest debt levels.

Shares gained 5.5 percent to 9.90 reais at the close of trading in Sao Paulo, the steepest advance since Aug. 8. The benchmark Bovespa index added 0.1 percent.

Gol’s directors met with executives of Qatar Airways on Sept. 4, Veja reported on its Radar On-Line column, without saying where it got the information. The Brazilian carrier’s press office denied the company is in talks with Qatar to sell the business. A Qatar Airways spokesman declined to comment when contacted by Bloomberg News.

A $1.6 billion debt load, the most of any major airline worldwide relative to profit, has fueled speculation that Gol will sell assets to raise cash or merge with another carrier.

“In tough times such as those we’re facing, investors see it as a natural step for Gol to join forces with a bigger airline,” Sandro Fernandes, an analyst at brokerage Geraldo Correa, said by phone from Belo Horizonte, Brazil. The strategy would be similar to competitor Tam SA’s merger with Lan Airlines SA in June, which created the world’s largest airline by market value, he said.

Gol’s shares have lost 20 percent this year, while the Bovespa rose 2.9 percent during the same period.

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