April 25, 2017 / 12:11 AM / a year ago

HNA to replace Odebrecht in airport group, Brazil minister says

BRASILIA, April 24 (Reuters) - HNA Airport Holding Group Co Ltd will buy out the stake that engineering conglomerate Odebrecht SA has in Brazil’s second-busiest international airport in order to help solve an impasse with a government agency over licensing rights, a Brazilian Cabinet minister said on Monday.

The Chinese company, which is part of HNA Group Co Ltd, has already bought the stake that an Odebrecht subsidiary had in the Rio de Janeiro international airport, or RIOGaleão, Wellington Moreira Franco, secretary-general for President Michel Temer’s office, told reporters in Brasilia.

Representatives for HNA could not be immediately contacted for comment. Reuters reported on April 17 that HNA was in advanced talks to buy out Odebrecht from RIOGaleão.

RIOGaleão was 51 percent-owned by the Odebrecht subsidiary and Singapore’s Changi Airport Group Pte Ltd. The government’s civil aviation infrastructure watchdog owns the remaining stake.

Brazil’s government wanted Odebrecht’s exit from the consortium to settle the airport’s licensing problems and stem it from the impact of Odebrecht’s involvement in the country’s worst corruption scandal ever, people familiar with the deal told Reuters earlier this month.

The scandal has almost fully shut Odebrecht’s access to credit and new contracts in Brazil and almost a dozen countries.

Last week, the consortium running RIOGaleão won permission from Brazil’s government to restructure 4.5 billion reais ($1.43 billion) worth of licensing payments over the next three years, paving the way for the entry of a new partner. (Reporting by Leonardo Goy; Writing by Guillermo Parra-Bernal; Editing by Bill Trott)

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