Latam Airlines SA (LFL:US) will use proceeds from a $1 billion share sale to help finance plane purchases as Latin America’s largest carrier seeks to bolster its balance sheet and regain an investment-grade credit rating.
The carrier, formed from Lan Airlines SA’s takeover of Brazil’s Tam SA last year, plans to spend about $11 billion through 2017 to add 165 planes, including 59 Airbus SAS A320s and 25 Boeing Co. 787s, Roberto Alvo, Latam’s vice president of strategic planning, told shareholders today at the company’s annual meeting in Santiago. The Santiago-based carrier will retire 114 planes, he said. Shareholders voted at the meeting to approve the capital increase, according to the company.
“We have to add a net figure between 15 and 25 planes per year just to cope with increasing demand in the region,” Alvo said.
Latam will disclose the sale price for the new shares in the second half of August and plans to complete it by Sept 25, Alvo said.
The company aims to regain an investment-grade rating in about two years, Chairman Mauricio Amaro told reporters after the meeting.
Latam had its rating cut by Fitch Ratings to BB+ immediately after the takeover of Tam in June 2012 and to BB in March. The current rating is two levels below investment grade.
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