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Slim’s Inbursa, Televisa Sell Stakes in Volaris to Investors, Funds

16 July 2010

(Bloomberg)  July 16, 2010 – Grupo Televisa SA and billionaire Carlos Slim’s Grupo Financiero Inbursa SAB sold their 25 percent stakes in Mexican low-cost airline Volaris after almost five years as co-investors.

A group of investors including Pedro Aspe and Emilio Azcarraga bought the stakes, Volaris said today in a statement. Televisa said in a separate release that it received $80.6 million for its holding. Inbursa got the same amount, according to a person familiar with the transaction, who declined to be identified because the information isn’t public.

Volaris, Mexico’s third-largest airline, is struggling to retain market share against low-fare units of Grupo Aeromexico SA and Grupo Mexicana de Aviacion SA. Volaris’s share of domestic flights fell to 14 percent in May from 15 percent a year earlier, according to the government. Discovery Americas II, a private equity fund representing Mexican pension funds, paid 111 million pesos ($8.58 million) for an undisclosed stake in the airline, according to a Mexican stock exchange filing.

“It’s a world-class operator that’s extremely profitable and competitively positioned against anybody in Mexico,” said Harry Krensky, managing partner of Discovery Americas, a private-equity firm related to the Discovery Americas II fund.

Volaris has remained profitable while its larger rivals have lost money trying to compete with low fares, Krensky said in a phone interview. Inbursa and Televisa were “fantastic partners in this company, who helped us tremendously,” he said.

Televisa, controlled by billionaire Emilio Azcarraga, controls Mexican cable-television operators that are competing for Internet and phone subscribers with Slim’s Telefonos de Mexico SAB. Inbursa, Slim’s financial-services firm, held its Volaris stake through Sinca Inbursa, a private investment fund.

El Salvador’s Taca airline, which came under the control of the parent company of Colombian airline Aerovias del Continente Americano SA last year, holds 25 percent of Volaris. The rest is owned by a group of private investors.

By Jonathan Roeder and Crayton Harrison