Brazil's Azul confirms LATAM M&A offer, but backs off as valuation too high

Brazil's Azul confirms LATAM M&A offer, but backs off as valuation too high
© Reuters/Paulo Whitaker FILE PHOTO: An Azul aircraft prepares for departure at Congonhas airport in Sao Paulo

SAO PAULO (Reuters) – Brazilian airline Azul SA confirmed on Monday that it made an offer earlier this month to combine with Chile’s LATAM Airlines Group, which is in bankruptcy proceedings, but said it had since decided to focus on its own operations.

In an exchange filing published late on Sunday, Azul said it would consider potential partnerships only in the future.

The Brazilian airline said its non-binding proposal submitted on Nov. 11 had included around $5 billion in equity financing and was backed by some creditors of LATAM.

Azul added however that LATAM’s valuation under its bankruptcy process had become higher than it believes to be acceptable, citing ongoing uncertainty in the aviation industry amid the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in long-haul markets.

“As a result, Azul will continue to focus on its exclusive competitive advantages provided by its unique network and fleet flexibility… and to evaluate future partnerships and consolidation opportunities available in the market,” Azul said.

LATAM filed a reorganization plan on Friday in which it proposed an $8.19 billion infusion of capital into the group in a bid to exit its Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

The Chilean company previously said it had received several offers to fund the exit from Chapter 11 bankruptcy, each of which were worth more than $5 billion.

Azul said in its late Sunday filing that it believed its non-binding proposal would have provided significant increased network growth and generate synergies estimated at more than $4 billion.

It added that “the standalone plan presented by LATAM is, by definition, unable to generate synergies from a combination”.

(Reporting by Gabriel Araujo; Editing by Jan Harvey)

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