TAP: South Americans may be ‘persuaded’ to increase their offers

As the “privatisation race” is narrowed down to two contenders – both from South America – the government has announced that it hopes to persuade the multi-million-euro bids to increase their offers.

For the moment, Brazilian David Neeleman – backed by Portuguese transport ‘mogul’ Humberto Pedrosa of the Barraqueiro group – is promising to boost the beleaguered airline with 53 new planes and an immediate cash injection of €350 million.

His “adversary” in the so-called ‘race’ to buy-up 66% of a bankrupt national air fleet is Colombian Gérman Efromovich – the boss of Avianca airlines and the Synergy Group conglomerate – who is pledging 12 new Airbus planes for TAP, plus an upgrade with Embraer planes for the associated Portugalia carrier. In addition to new air ‘power’, Efromovich plans to recapitalise TAP with €250 million.

But as a statement from last week’s Council of Minister affirms that “the two proposals have merit” and contain “attributes” that “allow” the presumption that these could be “improved during the negotiation process”, Expresso reveals that, whatever happens, TAP will remain in “technical bankruptcy” even after it has been privatised.

Neither bid covers TAP’s “negative capital” which stands at “a little more than €500 million”.

According to Expresso, it will time “some years” for the company to be brought back to “positive liquidity”.

Meantime, Economy Minister Pires de Lima has confirmed that the government hopes to announce the “winner” in the race during the first two weeks of June.

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