Chile LAN sees merger with TAM beginning mid-2011

* LAN sees regulatory approval in mid-2011

* Cueto family transfer shares into new holding company

SANTIAGO, Dec 24 (BestGrowthStock) – Chile’s LAN (LAN.SN: ) (LFL.N: )
expects its planned merger with Brazil’s TAM (TAMM4.SA: ) to
clear regulatory hurdles and take flight in mid-2011, a top
executive of the Chilean airline said in a radio interview on
Thursday.

“We hope by the middle of next year to be on solid ground
to begin working together,” LAN Chief Operating Officer Ignacio
Cueto told local radio Duna in comments available on the
radio’s website on Friday.

The Cueto family is the main shareholder of LAN, considered
one of Latin America’s most profitable airlines.

Both airlines announced their merger plans in August and
are waiting for regulatory approval in their countries.
Analysts say LAN is effectively acquiring the Brazilian airline
as the Cueto family is set to emerge with the biggest stake in
what would be one of the world’s top carriers.

The Cuetos transferred their LAN shares into a new holding
company via a public offering on Friday, in what they said was
a move to simplify their shareholders structure ahead of the
merger with TAM. The family used the public offering to
transfer the shares to take advantage of tax breaks, local
media said.

Local media has reported Chilean authorities are worried
that the new LATAM Airlines Group could end up with nearly
complete control over the Santiago-Sao Paulo route after the
merger. Still, experts have said approval is likely in both
countries.
(Reporting by Brad Haynes; Editing by Derek Caney)

Chile LAN sees merger with TAM beginning mid-2011