Banamex sheds half of Aeromexico stake, milk baron buys

MEXICO CITY Tue Feb 12, 2013 5:35pm EST

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Citigroup-unit Banamex sold over half its stake in top Mexican airline Aeromexico (AEROMEX.MX) for more than $172 million and the head of major milk company Lala picked up the shares, raising his holding in the company.

Aeromexico said in a filing with the Mexican Stock Exchange on Tuesday that a group of local businessmen, led by Eduardo Tricio Haro, president of Mexico's Grupo Lala, bought a 20.19 percent stake in the airline, boosting an existing stake.

Tricio now controls 20 percent of voting stock in the company through his personal holdings and agreements with other shareholders, Aeromexico said.

Grupo Lala, which is privately held and has not released financial information, is believed to be among the world's top milk producers.

Lala owns 18 milk factories in Mexico and 19 plants in the United States, as well as 253 distribution centers across North and Central America, according to a 2011 report on its charity contributions, the latest available on its website.

Banamex, through several different transactions, sold shares representing a 20.33 percent stake in the airline. The bank retains 16.11 percent.

Aeromexico earlier said on Tuesday the bank sold 18.53 percent of its shares at 16.50 pesos, which would make that stake worth $2.193 billion pesos ($172 million). Neither company disclosed the price of the later transactions.

The airline's shares closed up 8.77 percent at 18.24 pesos.

Aeromexico's chief executive said last year that Citi could sell its stake in the airline as the U.S. financial services firm continues to unload non-core assets.

(Additional reporting by Tomas Sarmiento. Writing by Michael O'Boyle.; Editing by Andrew Hay and Andre Grenon)

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