January 3, 2019 / 12:41 AM / in 6 months

Mexico airport trust calls shareholder meeting on early payment plan

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - An investment trust created to help fund a now-cancelled Mexico City airport project said on Wednesday it will call for a shareholders meeting to approve a government plan to buy back shares ahead of schedule.

FILE PHOTO: A general view shows a part of the terminal area at the construction site of the new Mexico City International Airport in Texcoco on the outskirts of Mexico City, Mexico October 29, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Romero

The trust said in a statement to the Mexican stock exchange that the government-run Mexico City Airport Group (GACM) had resolved to make the early repayment of the preferred shares that back trust certificates issued earlier this year.

The statement said GACM’s plan would be put to a shareholder vote in a meeting to be called in early January.

That could represent a first step in allowing investors in the certificates linked to the ditched project to get at least some of their money back.

However, it was not immediately clear how the plan could affect the 30 billion pesos ($1.54 billion) of trust certificates known as FNAIM that were issued last March, mostly to Mexican investors.

Representatives at the airport group and Mexico’s Finance Ministry declined to comment.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is scrapping the partially-built $13 billion airport. Lopez Obrador, who took office on Dec. 1, has long argued the project was tainted by corruption and too expensive. He said last month that construction to convert a military airstrip into a commercial airport will begin in January.

He was able to move forward with the cancellation after bondholders agreed to sell back $1.8 billion of $6 billion worth of debt issued for the project.

The trust certificates are a type of Mexican investment vehicle known as “Fibra E” that were designed to allow local pension funds to boost infrastructure and energy investments.

Funds controlled by the family of Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, including pension fund Afore Inbursa, snatched up around 13 billion pesos of the trust certificates, according to people involved in the deal.

Slim’s construction business has been one of the biggest winners of work for the airport.

Lopez Obrador’s move to ditch the country’s largest infrastructure project touched off a major sell-off in Mexican assets.

The airport Fibra was issued as Lopez Obrador was already threatening to cancel the airport if he won election, and its placement has made cancelling the project more complex by involving more private investors.

Reporting by Anthony Esposito, Veronica Gomez and Stefanie Eschenbacher; Editing by Michael O'Boyle and Rosalba O'Brien

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