Portugal puts 66% stake in TAP airline up for sale
Portugal's government decided Thursday to make another attempt at privatising TAP, putting 66 percent of the airline up for sale after it flew back into profit and generated renewed investor interest.
“We have the intention of selling 61 percent of the TAP Group’s capital directly to one or several investors and reserve 5 percent for employees,” junior transport minister Sergio Monteiro said following a cabinet meeting.
Economy Minister Antonio Pires de Lima disclosed in September the government had received approaches from four “credible” bidders and was reconsidering privatising the airline and whether or not keeping a controlling stake.
Portugal has been seeking fresh ways to boost its coffers as the country struggles with tough austerity measures after years of recession sparked by the 2008 global financial crisis.
Among the bidders is South American businessman German Efromovich, owner of the Colombian carrier Avianca, whose 2012 bid for TAP was the only one to meet the initial conditions.
But the Portugese government judged the bank guarantees offered to be insufficient and postponed the sale indefinitely.
In September a consortium formed by American businessman Frank Lorenzo and Portugese entrepreneur Miguel Pais do Amaral also threw its hat into the ring.
US-Brazilian businessman David Neeleman, founder of JetBlue in the United States and Azul in Brazil, is also interested as well as Globalia, the parent company of Air Europa.
TAP boasts the most connections with Brazil among European airlines.
It reported a 42-percent jump in net profit to 34 million euros last year thanks to a record number of passengers after several years of losses.