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China buys Odebrecht participation in the Tom Jobim airport

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Chinese conglomerate HNA has agreed to buy a stake in Rio de Janeiro’s airport from the corruption-tainted Brazilian firm Odebrecht, a government official said Tuesday.

HNA will take over from Odebrecht as the joint holder of a controlling stake in Tom Jobim airport, Brazil’s second busiest air hub with some 17 million passengers a year.

“The Odebrecht-HNA deal is closed. Only the paperwork remains,” a senior economy official in the government, Tarcisio de Freitas, told AFP.

HNA runs airlines, airports and hotels among other operations.

It will hold USD8 billion stake in the airport as one half of a consortium along with Singaporean firm Changi Airports International.

Odebrecht is caught up in a sprawling corruption scandal rocking Brazilian politics, targeted by an investigation dubbed Lava Jato, or Operation Car Wash.

Former executives of the firm have admitted paying bribes to secure contracts and have pointed the finger at numerous politicians in the hope of getting lighter sentences.

“A company involved in Lava Jato that has no rating and credit is leaving” the airport consortium, de Freitas said.

“The operation of the service continues and HNA, which is a healthy company, is coming in.”

HNA and Changi will jointly hold a 51% stake in the airport in a consortium dubbed RioGaleao. The remaining 49% is held by the Brazilian state.

Read more © Agence France-Presse