PLUNA CRJ-900 CX-CRA landing at AEP on 24Sep10
BQB Lineas Aereas owner Juan Carlos Lopez Mena is negotiating with the Uruguayan government to acquire the PLUNA shares formerly owned by the group headed by investment company Leadgate. Mena would pay between US$ 60-63 million for 75% of the Uruguayan national airline subject to an audit of the carrier with the main purpose being to discover any long-term obligations that Leadgate might have committed to that are not readily apparent.
Should the negotiations be successful, the new majority owner would downsize the airline reducing PLUNA's payroll by 200 jobs and returning 3-4 aircraft to Bombardier, their manufacturer. The reductions and return of aircraft would be partly offset by BQB's proposed expansion that would see that airline acquiring two CRJ-200's and adding 80 jobs.
Canadian commuter airline Jazz, that was a minority partner in the ownership group headed by Leadgate, has the right to make the first offer for the shares during a 30-day period (which expires July 15) but it has been disclosed that Jazz's only interest is to pursue a business plan to recover the US$ 15 million investment it made in PLUNA in 2010 but that was subsequently lost when the Jazz/Leadgate ownership group agreed to no compensation for their shares as part of the negotiation to exit the carrier. Once Jazz has recovered its money, it would exit PLUNA again. With the Canadian airline apparently having no long-term interest in PLUNA, it is unlikely that any offer it makes will be accepted by the Uruguayan government.
Stay tuned to see how things develop in the fast-changing situation of PLUNA, Uruguay's national carrier.
Source: El Pais Uruguay 30Jun12
Photo: Phil Perry