By Maria Chutchian
(Reuters) -Grupo Aeromexico has reached a $40-million deal with a group of unsecured creditors to withdraw their objection to the airline's bankruptcy restructuring plan, Aeromexico's lead counsel said on Thursday.
The move is the first step in what is likely to be a days-long Chapter 11 bankruptcy hearing out of New York. Despite the agreement with the unsecured creditors' committee, objections still remain from an ad hoc group of junior creditors, most notably Invictus Global Management.
As part of the deal, Aeromexico offered the unsecured creditors potential distributions from a four-year, $40-million "contingent value right" note which would dole out cash distributions as long as Aeromexico outperforms its targets, counsel Timothy Gaulich of Davis Polk & Wardwell said.
"That is very good news indeed," U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Shelley Chapman said after the deal was announced.
Aeromexico, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in New York in June 2020, on Thursday began making its case to Chapman for its restructuring proposal, which would infuse new capital into the company and make Apollo Global Management, a frequent investor in distressed companies, the largest shareholder.
Though the airline has lined up the support it says it needs from its multiple creditor groups, some still say the plan should not be approved unless junior creditors, some of whom may see just pennies on the dollar, receive better recoveries.
Chapman, who did not rule on the plan on Thursday, has set aside several days for the hearing, which is set to resume on Friday. If she ultimately approves the deal, Aeromexico - one of three major Latin American airlines that filed for bankruptcy during the pandemic - will be able to exit bankruptcy.
The plan, according to the airline, would reduce its debt by$1 billion and save around 13,000 jobs. But some junior creditors argue it is overly beneficial to existing shareholders, including Delta Air Lines Inc and four board members, at their expense.
Delta and the four Mexican individuals are in line to maintain some equity in the reorganized company. Delta, which is expected to hold around 20% of the company after the restructuring, has said the plan's approval is critical to maintaining its long-term relationship with Aeromexico.
(Reporting by Maria Chutchian; Editing by Bill Berkrot, Christian Plumb and Aurora Ellis)