MEXICO CITY – Ownership changes at struggling airliner Grupo Mexicana appear to have left the company without a chief executive as it navigates bankruptcy proceedings, with the new owners remaining tight-lipped about who will be running Mexico’s leading carrier through the process.
Grupo Mexicana, which comprises flagship carrier Mexicana de Aviacion and domestic units MexicanaClick and MexicanaLink, hasn’t officially said Borja is gone. Representatives of Mexicana’s pilots and flight attendants unions say they don’t know who might take the reins at the faltering airline, and even the government appeared to be in the dark as to who will replace Borja.
Former Mexicana Chief Executive Manuel Borja has already stepped down and left his office after three years at the post, according to people in the company with knowledge of the situation who asked to remain anonymous. News of his departure came after a group of investors under the banner Tenedora K said Saturday they had acquired 95% of the shares of Nuevo Grupo Aeronautico, Mexicana’s holding company.
The investors include the privately held Mexican companies Grupo Industrial Omega and Grupo Arizan. Private-equity firm Advent International is “contributing to the effort to financially restructure NGA,” a statement from the group said. Pilots union ASPA owns the remaining 5%.
Mexicana de Aviacion continues flying a reduced schedule, and the company is still selling tickets for domestic units MexicanaLink and MexicanaClick.
Tenedora K said the investment group is a vehicle for capitalizing the airline, which needs to address labor, operating and financial issues to remain viable. The group said the banrkruptcy proceedings initiated early this month by Mexicana will continue. Officials at Omega and Grupo Arizan couldn’t be reached for comment.
Local press reports have indicated that Alejandro Rodriguez, a managing partner for Advent in Mexico, is now in charge of the airline. But an Advent public relations representative couldn’t confirm whether or not Rodriguez is the airline’s acting CEO.
In an interview Monday on the local Radio Formula station, Communications and Transport Minister Juan Molinar said he knew of Tenedora K and Advent International’s plans to take over Mexicana, but said the investors hadn’t filed the corresponding paperwork with the ministry, which regulates aviation in Mexico. While acknowledging the airline’s situation remained “critical,” Molinar didn’t provide additional details about who the new investors are, how much capital they plan to inject into Mexicana, who is in charge of the airline, or its odds of exiting bankruptcy intact.
“What is certain is that there is now a new group of private investors who have decided to risk millions of dollars, committing to the project of restructuring and bringing Mexicana afloat,” Molinar said. “These private investors find that the company is viable and that they can restructure its debts, find new capitalists to inject resources under a new business plan, and that’s good news.”