* Transport group takes 23.7 pct of Brazil's No. 3 airline
* $450 million in cash buys time for much-delayed IPO
* JetBlue founder Neeleman keeps control of Azul (Adds comments from Azul CEO, company and industry background, pictures)
By Brad Haynes and Matthew Miller
SAO PAULO/BEIJING, Nov 24 China's HNA Group partnered with JetBlue founder David Neeleman on Tuesday, agreeing to buy a $450 million stake in Azul SA, Brazil's third-largest airline, and providing a cash cushion until a much-delayed initial public offering (IPO) proceeds.
The 23.7 percent stake in Azul SA will be a first foray into Latin America for HNA Group, an aviation, tourism and logistics conglomerate that recently snapped up air cargo handlers Swissport and Irish aircraft leasing company Avolon.
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