Three days from the deadline for potential investors to submit binding offers for trouble-torn state carrier TAP-Air Portugal, another heavyweight in the ‘race’ is reported to have pulled out.
According to Diário Económico, Portuguese millionaire with the Midas-touch Miguel Pais do Amaral has had enough with all the delays in the privatisation process and ordered his team of consultants to stand down.
Pais do Amaral’s withdrawal is yet another blow in the long-running saga to sell off 66% of the airline to private investment.
National media has been at pains to explain that the government stands to make nothing from the deal as TAP’s debts now almost equal its worth (said to be around €1 billion).
Air Europa – the carrier owned by Spanish group Globalia – pulled its interest in the deal last month, and it now depends on which paper you read as to who exactly remains in this ‘race’ to buy the nation’s seemingly bankrupt airline.
With ever-increasing debts and assailed by strike action, TAP’s financial situation could not be worse.
Colombian airline Avianca held by multi-millionaire German Efromovich was reported to have withdrawn its interest for this very reason, but elsewhere in the media Avianca is said to be still in the running.
Also ‘keen’ is the Azul airlines, run by Brazilian entrepreneur David Neeleman, and three US equity funds.
Meantime, Portuguese political figure Paulo Morais – standing for election as President of the Republic – has claimed the government and the unions are actually in cahoots to bring TAP’s value to rock bottom, in order to sell it off to “powerful friends”.