CORRECTED-LATAM Airlines sees investment grade recovered by early 2016

Tue Apr 29, 2014 1:15pm EDT

(Corrects paragraph 3 to "first half of 2016" from "first quarter of 2016")

SANTIAGO, April 29 (Reuters) - LATAM Airlines , Latin America's largest airline, which was created via a tie-up of Chile's LAN and Brazil's TAM in 2012, said it expects its debt to be rated investment grade by early 2016 at the latest.

The company, which as LAN enjoyed investment-grade status and was a darling of the market, has struggled since the merger to get its Brazilian operations in line against the backdrop of a slowing economy and currency headwinds.

It has said results should improve as cost-cutting measures take effect, and Chief Financial Officer Andres Osorio said at the company's annual general meeting on Tuesday that the company expected to return to investment grade status by the end of 2015 or the first half of 2016.

The airline is currently rated BB by S&P. (Reporting by Felipe Iturrieta; Writing by Rosalba O'Brien; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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