* Merged Latin American carrier seeking to boost finances
* LATAM could launch operation this year
* Amount of capital increase not disclosed
SANTIAGO, April 29 LATAM Airlines Group SA
is mulling a capital increase to boost its finances and
regain its investment grade, the regional carrier said on
Monday, adding it could launch the operation later this year.
Latin America's largest carrier is the result of Chilean
airline LAN's takeover of Brazil's TAM last year. After the
combination, Fitch Ratings in June lowered LATAM's ratings on
global debt to "BB plus" from "BBB," citing the company's high
debt levels and constrained cash holdings.
"We're mulling a capital increase," Chairman Mauricio Amaro
told reporters. "I'd rather not give figures, but it will be an
amount necessary to regain our investment grade."
Shares in the company tumbled 2.57 percent in midday Monday
trading following the announcement, underperforming a 0.43
percent drop on Santiago's blue-chip IPSA stock index.
Also on Monday, LATAM said it expects to be operating its
Boeing 787 Dreamliners again in June.
LATAM's net profit dived 96.6 percent in 2012 to $10.96
million, hammered by the costs of the takeover and higher taxes
in Chile. The company's shares have lost around a quarter of
their value since the merger was completed in June.
The carrier has domestic operations in Argentina, Brazil,
Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.