Wednesday 25 November 2015

CHINA: China's HNA Group Acquires 23.7% Stake In Brazil's Azul

Hainan Airlines
Type: Scheduled Carrier
Base: Haikou
Aircraft: 162
Destinations: 85
Routes: 299
Daily Flights: 605

Azul Linhas Aéreas Brasileiras (AD, Campinas Viracopos) and HNA Group have announced a strategic partnership wherein the Chinese conglomerate will acquire a 23.7% stake in the Brazilian carrier for USD450 million. As Azul's single largest shareholder, HNA will be able to appoint new members to the board of directors.

“HNA Group sees in Azul a solid investment with high growth potential. The USD450 million investment, considering Brazil’s current macroeconomic situation, demonstrates that we have a winning business model and that the HNA Group, as a large investor, has absolute confidence in Azul’s team," David Neeleman, CEO of Azul, said. "Moreover, this investment makes Azul the airline with the highest valuation in the Brazilian market, at more than BRL7.0 billion (USD1.87 billion).”

As part of the deal, the two firms will cooperate in the development of code sharing and new routes while expanding cooperation across their respective loyalty programs.

The partnership brings together two of the largest players in two of the fastest-growing aviation markets in the world - China and Brazil. With a fleet of 145 aircraft, Azul is the largest airline in Brazil by network-size, offering more than 900 daily flights to more than 100 destinations. For its part, HNA Group owns China's fourth largest airline group in terms of fleet size with a total of 561 aircraft on the books of Hainan Airlines, Grand China Air, Tianjin Airlines, Lucky Air (China), West Air (China), and Yangtze River Express. It operates scheduled domestic and international service on more than 630 routes from locations throughout China as well as internationally. HNA Group's international portfolio includes stakes in myCargo Airlines (Turkey), Africa World Airlines (Ghana), Aigle Azur (France), and Comair (South Africa).

Bravia Capital and UBS Investment Bank served as financial advisor to HNA Group while Seabury Securities LLC, Seabury Group's investment banking unit, served as financial advisor to Azul.

Earlier this year, United Airlines (UA, Chicago O'Hare) acquired a 5% shareholding in Azul for USD100 million in a deal that also gave United Continental Holdings Inc a representative on Azul's board.

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