Portugal sells majority stake in flag carrier TAP

Portugal sells majority stake in flag carrier TAP

The Portuguese government has sold a controlling stake in its national airline TAP to an investor group led by the founder of JetBlue Airways.

David Neeleman, founder of JetBlue and Brazilian airline Azul Linhas Aereas Brasileiras SA, made a €348 million bid to take the controlling stake in TAP, 66% of the company, outbidding rival Latin American airline investor German Efromovich.

This was the Portuguese government’s second attempt to sell the airline.

In 2012, Efromovich, through Avianca’s controlling company Synergy Group Corp, offered €35 million for 95% of the airline, plus a capital injection of €316 million and the assumption of about €1.1 billion in debt held by TAP.

His offer was refused because it didn’t meet a number of financial conditions.

Neeleman proposed to pay €10 million for 61% of TAP and inject at least €338 million into the debt-laden airline in partnership with Portuguese bus company Grupo Barraqueiro, Sergio Monteiro, Portugal’s secretary of state for transport, said at a press conference in Lisbon.

The investment group has agreed to supply TAP with 53 new planes and keep the carrier’s hub in Lisbon for at least 30 years.

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