United Airlines shakes up Avianca leadership after shareholder default


Rewrites throughout

May 24 (Reuters) - United Airlines said on Friday it had started a management overhaul at Colombia's Avianca Holdings AVT_p.CN, removing top shareholder German Efromovich from controlling the cash-strapped airline.

The move follows a default by Efromovich's holding company BRW Aviation on a $456 million loan United had made as part of a proposed three-way partnership with Avianca and Panama's Copa.

United, part of United Continental Holdings Inc UAL.O, is seeking a deeper foothold in Latin America, which is considered ripe for air travel growth.

United's loan was backed by Efromovich's 51.5% stake in Avianca. However, the U.S. airline's contract with its pilots restricts the company from majority ownership in another carrier. As a result, United is ceding voting rights to Kingsland Holdings, the Colombian carrier’s second-largest shareholder.

In a regulatory filing on Friday, United also said it was willing to loan Avianca up to $150 million if needed and requested, subject to conditions.

(Reporting by Sanjana Shivdas in Bengaluru and Marcelo Rochabrun in Sao Paulo, writing by Tracy Rucinski; Editing by Anil D'Silva and Marguerita Choy)

((SanjanaSitara.Shivdas@thomsonreuters.com; within U.S. +1 646 223 8780, outside U.S. +91 80 6749 1642; Reuters Messaging: sanjanasitara.shivdas.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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