Chinese firm to buy up to 20 percent of Portugal's TAP: shareholder

21st May 2016, Comments 0 comments

Chinese aviation and tourism giant HNA will buy up a stake of up to 20 percent of Portuguese national airline TAP, a private shareholder of the southern European company said Saturday.

HNA will buy an initial seven percent stake of Atlantic Gateway, the private consortium that owns half of TAP, businessman Humerto Pedrosa told reporters in Lisbon.

The Chinese conglomerate's direct and indirect stake in TAP's shares could reach 20 percent, Pedrosa said.

The indirect stake could come through HNA's ownership since a November buyout of 23.7 percent of Brazilian airline Azul's shares.

The Azul carrier was founded by US-Brazilian businessman David Neelman, who is Pedrosa's associate.

Portuguese weekly Expresso said HNA's acquisition of TAP's shares should come within the next three months.

The Chinese group is set to acquire part of the 90 million euros ($100 million) worth of convertible bonds in shares issued by Azul to bail TAP out.

TAP's private investors and Portugal's new Socialist government on Friday signed an agreement to partially review the privatisation of the airline.

The government also boosted its stake in the company from 39 percent to 50 percent, in line with an election pledge.

The outgoing conservative administration made the sale of TAP to the consortium headed by Neeleman and Pedrosa.

The new anti-austerity government pledged to bring TAP back under state control.

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© 2016 AFP

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