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New Pluna owners to challenge Uruguay over airline’s demise
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New Pluna owners to challenge Uruguay over airline’s demise

A Panamanian investment company has purchased the outstanding shares of former Uruguayan flag carrier Pluna Lineas Aereas Uruguayas and, through arbitration, plans to seek financial compensation for Uruguay’s alleged role in wiping the airline out, ATW’s sister publication Aviation Week has learned.

A source with knowledge of the proceedings confirmed Caballero Verde S. de R.L. (Caballero) recently took control of the Latin American Regional Aviation Holding Corp. (Larah), the Panama-based company that owned 75% of Pluna.

Larah’s previous owners were Chorus Aviation, three former executives of Leadgate, a defunct private-equity (PE) firm, and other international investors. Leadgate took control of Pluna in 2007 but lost its stake in the airline when the government took over the financially struggling carrier in 2012 and shut it down.

The source confirmed Caballero purchased each former owner’s stake and now owns Larah outright. The firm’s planned next step is to leverage an investment treaty between Panama and Uruguay to argue that the Uruguayan government played a central role in Pluna’s 2012 demise.

Caballero expects to file a legal complaint soon that would officially start a process outlined in the treaty, giving both sides six months to negotiate a settlement. If a deal is not reached, the case will go to international arbitration.

Caballero is seeking damages in the “hundreds of millions of dollars,” the source said, citing the airline’s projected value today, as well as to cover the value of a handful of aircraft that were sold in 2012 as the primary assets. Caballero is believed to be controlled by Tenor Capital, a New York-based PE firm with experience in the growing field of funding investors’ legal cases against states in exchange for shares of any awards.

A Chorus spokesperson confirmed the company “no longer holds interest” in Larah but declined to elaborate, saying the transaction’s details are “not material information.”

Tenor did not respond to a request for comment…

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