UPDATE 1-LATAM sells leftover shares, wraps up capital hike

Fri Jan 10, 2014 9:58am EST

SANTIAGO Jan 10 (Reuters) - Regional carrier LATAM Airlines on Friday sold shares leftover from a recent capital increase, thus wrapping up the roughly $940.5 million operation geared at boosting its finances.

The company, the fruit of Chilean airline LAN's 2012 takeover of Brazil's TAM, offered 10.3 million shares leftover from a preferential capital increase period that ended in December.

The roughly $784 million LATAM reaped from the preferential capital hike period fell short of what the company was seeking to raise, chiefly because Brazilian group Amaro decided not to exercise its right to buy 8.4 million shares.

Friday's sale raised about $156 million, bringing the company closer to its roughly $1 billion target figure.

"With this, the company is achieving significant progress in an important and strategic process that seeks to strengthen LATAM's balance sheet and financial position via improved coffers and lower debt," LATAM said in a statement.

Weakness in the Brazilian market has hurt LATAM's operating margins, but third quarter results suggest the carrier is turning the corner.

Shares in LATAM were trading 1.74 percent lower on Friday, outpacing a 0.86 percent drop on the IPSA stock index.

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