Brazil watchdog OKs Odebrecht's Rio airport stake sale to China's HNA

The corporate logo of Odebrecht is seen inside of one of its offices in Mexico City, Mexico May 4, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazil's civil aviation industry watchdog granted preliminary approval on Monday to the sale of Odebrecht SA's controlling stake in the nation's second-busiest international airport to China's HNA Airport Holding Group Co Ltd HNAIRC.UL.

HNA reached a deal in July to purchase a 60 percent stake in an investment vehicle known as Rio de Janeiro Aeroportos SA, which holds a controlling stake in the Rio de Janeiro international airport, from a subsidiary of Brazilian engineering conglomerate Odebrecht SA ODBES.UL.

Singapore’s Changi Airports International Pte Ltd holds the remaining 40 percent of the Rio de Janeiro Aeroportos investment vehicle. The Brazilian government is a minority stakeholder in the airport through agency Infraero.

The transaction is part of an effort by Odebrecht to divest assets to cut debt and weather the impact from its involvement in Brazil’s biggest corruption scandal ever.

Reporting by Bruno Federowski and Natalia Scalzaretto; Writing by Bruno Federowski; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn