June 27, 2018 / 10:43 AM / 23 days ago

Hainan Airlines says plans to sell remaining stake in Brazilian carrier Azul

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China’s Hainan Airlines (600221.SS) said on Wednesday it plans to sell its remaining stake in Brazilian airline Azul SA (AZUL.N), but did not disclose details.

The carrier, part of the sprawling and financially troubled HNA conglomerate, in April sold part of its stake in Azul to a subsidiary of United Airlines parent United Continental Holdings (UAL.N) for $138.3 million.

Hainan’s remaining stake, accounting for 17.95 percent of preferred shares and a 17.28 percent economic interest in the airline is worth around $324 million, based on Azul’s market value as of Tuesday’s close.

Hainan said the sale was a strategic decision in light of equity market conditions and that it would help the firm maintain liquidity and keep its asset restructuring on track.

HNA, the aviation-to-financial services conglomerate, has been selling overseas real estate and some of its biggest financial and strategic investments following a $50 billion acquisition spree over the past two years.

Sao Paolo-based Azul is Brazil’s third-largest airline after LATAM Airlines Group SA’s LTM.SN Brazilian unit and Gol Linhas Aereas Inteligentes SA (GOLL4.SA).

Azul was established a decade ago by David Neeleman, the founder of U.S.-based carrier JetBlue Airways Corp (JBLU.O), who remains the largest preferred shareholder with a 67 percent holding.

As of April, Azul had an 18.9 percent share of the Brazilian domestic market and a 15.4 percent share of the international market among Brazilian carriers, according to the country’s civil aviation authority.

Reporting by Adam Jourdan in Shanghai, additional reporting and writing by Jamie Freed in Singapore; Editing by Vyas Mohan

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