Portugal starts talks to bring TAP back under state control

9th December 2015, Comments 0 comments

Portugal's new left-wing, anti-austerity government said Wednesday it had started talking to TAP shareholders about bringing the airline back under state control.

The previous conservative government pushed through the privatisation of 61 percent of TAP's capital as it was leaving office last month, but the new Socialist Party and hard left ruling coalition wants to reverse the move.

"We remain determined to recover a majority of the capital," Infrastructure Minister Pedro Marques said on the margins of a congress in Lisbon.

The 61 percent stake in the airline went to Azul founder the US-Brazilian businessman David Neeleman, and his Portugese associate, Humberto Pedrosa.

Prime Minister Antonio Costa's election platform contained a promise to keep TAP under state ownership and he said on Monday he was "convinced" that he could make a deal with the new shareholders.

TAP chairman Fernando Pinto said, however, that it would be "very difficult" to reverse the privatisation, saying "180 million euros have been injected and I have already spent half".

TAP, which employs 10,000 people, has one billion euros of debt and cashflow problems.

The new Portugese government said on Friday it was also moving to halt the privatisation of transport systems in Lisbon and Porto, another measure introduced by its right-wing predecessor.

© 2015 AFP

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