* Volaris positioning for IPO, media says
* New exec has record of restructuring, cutting costs
* Carriers race for bigger stakes in Mexicana wake
By Cyntia Barrera Diaz
MEXICO CITY, Feb 11 Volaris, Mexico's No. 3
airline, has tapped a seasoned executive to head the company's
board amid local media reports that the carrier could go public
Volaris appointed Gilberto Perezalonso to replace Pedro
Aspe as chairman of the board, the company said in a release
late on Thursday. It mostly operates domestic routes but also
flies to California and Chicago.
Aspe, Mexico's former finance minister and a partner in
investment fund Protego, resigned from his post with Volaris
but will remain as honorary president of the company.
Perezalonso was behind broadcaster Grupo Televisa's (TV.N)
(TLVACPO.MX) financial overhaul in the late 1990s which
included slashing thousands of jobs to cut costs. His tight
grip pulled Televisa out from one of its worst crises and
cemented its lead as Latin America's top producer of
Spanish-language television content.
Nicaragua-born Perezalonso also held a top post at one of
Mexico's main supermarket chains and was a chief executive for
AeroMexico, Mexico's biggest airline, a few years ago.
His appointment comes after Volaris, which local media have
reported could pursue an initial public offering this year,
lost two of its founding investors: Carlos Slim, the world's
richest man, and Televisa's Chief Executive Emilio Azcarraga
Slim and Azcarraga sold their respective 25 percent stakes
in Volaris in the third quarter of 2010 to a group of
investors, including a U.S.-based venture capital firm.
Volaris faces strong competition from Interjet, which has
expanded in recent months to take advantage of the demise of
airline Mexicana after the troubled carrier stopped flying in
August due to deep financial troubles.
Interjet told Reuters recently it was considering selling a
stake to a foreign partner or listing its shares on the local
stock market to boost growth. Last month, the company signed a
$650 million contract with Superjet International for 15
aircraft that will add to its existing Airbus EAD.PA fleet.
AeroMexico has about 47 percent of the domestic market,
followed by Interjet with around 20 percent and Volaris with 16
Mexicana's future is still unclear as it has yet to reveal
which new investors will inject fresh capital to kick-start the
company. Mexico's labor minister, Javier Lozano, told a radio
show on Friday that Mexicana would start selling tickets again
by the end of month.
(Reporting by Cyntia Barrera Diaz, editing by Dave Zimmerman)