August 15, 2017 / 6:09 PM / a year ago

Colombia's Avianca may finalize partnership with United Continental this year -CEO

BOGOTA, Aug 15 (Reuters) - Colombian airline Avianca Holdings expects to finalize a partnership with United Continental Holdings Inc in 2017, although board and regulatory approvals could delay finalization of the deal by up to a year, the airline’s chief executive, Hernan Rincon, said on Tuesday.

The strategic commercial partnership, about which the airlines have offered few details, faces a legal challenge in New York from Avianca’s No.2 shareholder, Kingsland Holdings Ltd. Kingsland has sought to halt talks between the airlines until shareholders vote on whether to appoint an auditor to examine transactions between Avianca and its controlling shareholder, Synergy Group.

Avianca expects a favorable ruling on the case next month, Rincon said at a news conference in Bogota, adding, “our plan is to try and close the deal this year.”

The proposal would then be sent to the airlines’ respective boards and regulatory authorities in the countries where they operate, he said.

“It depends on time and could be delayed for up to a year after we reach the deal,” said Rincon, who declined to provide further details.

Synergy holds 78 percent of Avianca voting shares. Kingsland holds about 22 percent of voting shares and 14 percent of total shares.

The Colombia-based airline reported a net profit of $8.8 million in the second quarter late on Monday. (Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta, writing by Julia Symmes Cobb)

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