China’s Hainan Airlines buys stake in Brazil’s Azul

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Shanghai, Aug 4, 2016 (AFP) –

Chinese carrier Hainan Airlines has completed a $450-million purchase of nearly a quarter stake in Brazil’s third largest airline Azul, according to a statement issued Thursday, as its parent HNA embarks on an overseas investment binge.

The deal, originally announced in November, gives Hainan Airlines a 23.7 percent stake in Azul, making the Chinese company the Brazilian firm’s single largest shareholder, the statement said.

“We view Azul as a strong and lasting partner for HNA to explore further expansion and capital investment in Latin America,” Adam Tan, chief executive of Hainan Airlines’ parent HNA Group, said in the statement.

HNA, a conglomerate with interests in aviation and tourism, said in May it was buying a 13 percent stake in airline Virgin Australia. It also announced the same month that it was taking a share of Portuguese national airline TAP.

In July it declared that a $1.5 billion offer it made for Swiss airline catering company gategroup had been successful.

Hainan Airlines will cooperate with Azul in areas including code sharing, route development, marketing and cargo transport, the statement said.

“We look forward to working together to create a seamless travel experience between Latin America and China,” said Tan.

Hainan Airlines’ stock was down 0.88 percent by midday on Thursday in Shanghai trading amid a fall in the overall market.

The Chinese government has encouraged the nation’s companies to invest overseas to open up new markets, especially as economic growth has slowed at home.

Another Chinese conglomerate, privately-owned Fosun, said on Saturday it had agreed to buy Brazilian investment management firm Rio Bravo, marking its first equity acquisition in Latin America.