The Mexican government has sold its stake in Mexicana through state holding company Cintra, but needs more time to sell its Aeromexico shares.

May is the new target date for the Mexican government to sell its controlling stake in Aeromexico. It sold the Mexicana group, including low-cost carrier Click, in December, but rejected as too low a separate bid for the Aeromexico group, which includes regional carrier Aerolitoral.

When bidding for the two airline groups concluded in November, the number of bidders had shrunk to two. Grupo Posada, a local hotel chain, successfully bid for Mexicana, but a bid for Aeromexico by a closely held consortium called Grupo Xtra did not meet the minimum price.

Spain’s Globalia, which includes Air Europa, missed out on the final bidding when its local partner withdrew at the last minute. Globalia was required to affiliate with a local bidder because of Mexico’s 25% cap on foreign ownership. Grupo Posada’s successful bid was for $166 million cash plus assumption of $1.3 billion in liabilities and leases.

Cintra, the holding company that has controlled the government stakes in Mexicana and Aeromexico for the past decade, ceased to exist with the sale of Mexicana. Cintra chairman Andres Conesa said: “By selling 100% of Mexicana, Cintra becomes Grupo Aeromexico.” Underscoring this change, Gilberto Perezalonso, Aeromexico’s chief executive, resigned, and Conesa has replaced him.

Cintra’s remaining assets – ground handling and air cargo units, and a training centre – are now jointly owned by Mexicana and Aeromexico. Conesa vows to press ahead with Aeromexico’s sale. “There’s no reason for the state to own an airline,” he says. A new sale process will be announced in January.

Under an earlier anti-trust directive, Aeromexico and Mexicana must be sold to separate buyers. To control the process, Conesa may use another auction rather than a public offering, giving him more power to choose the buyer. Juan José Hidalgo, Globalia’s president, says his company is still keen to acquire a stake in Aeromexico. ■

Source: Airline Business