Grupo Posadas to buy Mexicana Airlines

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MEXICO CITY -- Grupo Posadas, Mexicos largest hotel firm, agreed to buy government-owned Mexicana Airlines for $165.5 million.

Grupo Posadas beat out a bid from Grupo Xtra, the holding company for a large pharmaceutical distributor.

The purchase by Grupo Posadas is to be completed by Dec. 16; the new owner will assume all of Mexicanas debt and lease obligations, bringing the total transaction to nearly $1.5 billion, according to Adolfo Crespo y Vivo, Mexicanas vice president of public relations.

Synergies between hotel and airline

I think there are a lot of synergies with the two groups, Crespo told TravelWeekly.com. The new owner is the largest Latin American hotel chain, with 94 hotels and 17,000 bedrooms. And we are the largest international carrier in Mexico, and we dominate the tourism routes. So there will be a lot of synergies as far as travel packages, and thats going to help a lot. Also, we see a lot of synergies in the food business: We serve food, and so do they.

Crespo said that the sale will have no immediate effect on Mexicanas service, but by the end of January he expects the airline to unveil new strategies. Now we are a completely private company. By the end of January, we are going to have new objectives or our objectives will be reinstated.

Crespo said that Grupo Posadas was drawn to Mexicana because of the airlines relatively young fleet, its corporate culture and the potential of the low-cost division Click Mexicana.

According to a statement from Gaston Azcarraga, president of Grupo Posadas, This purchase marks a new stage in the history of Grupo Posadas. I firmly believe in the Mexican talent [present in] both companies, and I am sure that the focused and determined work of our teams will bring extraordinary results.

Attempts at privatization

The government took control of both Mexicana and chief rival Aeromexico as part of a bank bailout in the mid-1990s, creating Cintra to manage both airlines. The government has been attempting to privatize Aeromexico as well, but no announcement has been made about a purchase; Grupo Posadas and Grupo Xtra both made bids for the two airlines, but no one company would be allowed to purchase both carriers, according to Cintra.

In Mexico, Grupo Posadas claims to operate 20% of the nations tourist-class hotel inventory. The companys brands include Fiesta Americana, Aqua, Fiesta Inn, Caesar Park and Caesar Business.

To contact reporter Mark Chesnut, send e-mail [email protected].

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