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Citigroup Sells Part of Aeromexico to Mexico Milk Magnate

Feb. 12 (Bloomberg) -- Citigroup Inc. sold more than half its stake in Grupo Aeromexico SAB, Mexico’s largest airline, to an investor group led by the chairman of the nation’s biggest milk company. The carrier’s shares rose the most since 2011.

Eduardo Tricio Haro, who heads dairy producer Grupo Lala SA, led a group that acquired 20.2 percent of Aeromexico, the airline said today. The sale included an 18.5 percent stake owned by Citigroup’s Banamex unit at 16.50 pesos a share. Additional market transactions boosted Banamex’s total share sale to 20.3 percent of Aeromexico’s equity, leaving it with a 16.1 percent holding, the carrier said in a separate statement.

Citigroup is stepping back from Aeromexico after winning control in a 2007 government sale and helping sell a minority of shares in a 2011 initial public offering. Tricio Haro will be chairman and will have a personal stake of more than 10 percent, Aeromexico said in a statement. Andres Conesa will remain as chief executive officer, the Mexico City-based airline said.

Banamex “will focus on strategic assets and its main business of banking,” Paulo Carreno, a spokesman, said in a telephone interview. Mexico City-based Banamex has said since 2007 that the investment was temporary, according to Carreno.

Aeromexico soared 8.8 percent to 18.24 pesos at the close in Mexico City, the biggest gain since Nov. 15, 2011. The IPO price almost two years ago was 31 pesos a share. The stock fell 32 percent in the 12 months through yesterday, as the Mexican IPC index advanced 18 percent.

Tricio Haro, 49, is the scion of a family from northern Mexico that helped build Grupo Lala into the nation’s largest milk producer. The closely held company was the 30th-biggest in Mexico in 2011, with sales of 67 billion pesos ($5.26 billion), according to Mexican business magazine Expansion.

Lala bought Dallas-based National Dairy, with brands such as Borden, from Dairy Farmers of America Inc. in 2009 for an undisclosed amount.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brendan Case in Mexico City at bcase4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Ed Dufner at edufner@bloomberg.net

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