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By Conor Humphries
FARNBOROUGH, England, July 12 (Reuters) - Qatar Airways has agreed to acquire up to 10 percent of Latin America’s largest airline LATAM Airlines, in a $613 million deal that requires the consent of existing shareholders at the Chile-based carrier, the two companies said on Tuesday.
The deal follows Qatar Airways’ purchase last year of 15 percent of British Airways owner International Airlines Group , which like Qatar and LATAM is a member of the Oneworld airline alliance.
The move is part of a rapid global expansion by the Doha-based airline, which is due to talk to Italian carrier Meridiana later on Tuesday about the proposed purchase of a 49 percent stake.
“As a leading airline in Latin America, and key member of Oneworld, this investment provides potential opportunities for Qatar Airways’ global network, alongside our successful investment in IAG,” Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker told a media briefing at the Farnborough Airshow.
The two airlines said they had signed a subscription agreement that provides for Qatar Airways to acquire up to 10 percent of LATAM’s total shares following a capital increase.
LATAM must hold an Extraordinary Shareholders Meeting by Sept. 2 to propose a capital increase of $613 million through the issuance of new shares at $10 per share, the companies said in a statement.
“In addition to strengthening our financial position, it will allow us to explore new opportunities for connectivity with Asia and the Middle East” LATAM chief executive Enrique Cueto said. (Reporting by Conor Humphries; Editing by Mark Potter)