LATAM Airlines becomes third carrier eyeing Viva Colombia merger

LATAM, Latin America’s largest airline, said it wants to buy Colombian low-cost carrier Viva Air, becoming the third business in the region to set its sights on acquiring the embattled company.

Bids for Viva Air opened last year with an offer from Colombia’s flag-carrier Avianca, which was initially rejected by Colombia’s civil aviation regulator in November on the grounds that it posed risks to competition in the sector and the welfare of consumers.

Following an appeal by Avianca and Viva Air, the regulator annulled the merger in January, citing procedural irregularities, and began the process anew without either company having to reapply.

Last week, Indigo Partners-backed budget carrier JetSMART Airlines announced its intention to open talks to buy Viva Air, without stating how much it could offer.

Now, LATAM Airlines Colombia, a subsidiary of Chile-based LATAM Airlines Group, has laid out its own intentions regarding a takeover of Viva Air.

“In a written communication to the president of Viva Air Colombia … the company has informed that any transaction is subject to a financial analysis (which would be carried out expeditiously), an agreement between the parties, and the corresponding regulatory approvals,” LATAM said in a statement late on Tuesday.

The statement did not include any financial information on the size of a potential deal.

LATAM’s Colombian subsidiary is ready to strengthen its operations in the country, benefiting consumers and Colombia’s tourism sector alike, the statement said.

“A potential acquisition of Viva Air Colombia becomes a growth opportunity, offering Colombian consumers the best value proposition in the local market in terms of service, and the country new alternatives to strengthen its connectivity and development of tourism,” the company said.



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