Neeleman to sell his share in TAP

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The German airline Lufthansa is the most likely candidate to purchase the 45% share in TAP currently owned by Brazilian entrepreneur David Neeleman.

The move comes after the government has been at loggerheads with the airline mogul after plans to turn around the financial fortunes of the Portuguese national carrier failed to materialise with initial promises of a profit turning into a €100 million debt for 2018-2020.
“The budget for TAP that the Executive Commission presented for 2018 and 2019 expected a profit, instead we have a €100 million debt” the Minister for Infrastructure and Housing said on Friday at a lunch organised by the International Club of Portugal (ICPT).
And it has been widely reported that David Neeleman, the major private shareholder in TAP, is preparing to sell his share in the airline.
Negotiations to sell the 45% share in TAP are reportedly well advanced with Neeleman mooted to be in negotiations with “a large European airline company.”
In November, the German airline Lufthansa was in the running to inject capital into TAP and on 14 February it was discovered that two airlines – Lufthansa and United Airlines had partnered up in the negotiations with Neeleman.
However, negotiations with other airlines are also continuing including Air France/KLM. Neeleman’s goal is to sell a part of his current share in the short term and them offload the rest at a later date.
Another alternative is an operation to float TAP capital in shares on the stock market, an option which the current PS government led by António Costa is against.
TAP’s capital is 50% held by the Portuguese State, 45% by the Atlantic Gateway Consortium owned by David Neeleman and Humberto Pedrosa and 5% by the employees.
In response to TAP’s losses, TAP CEO Antonoaldo Neves has partly blamed the incapacity of Lisbon’s international airport at Portela – Humberto Delgado – to meet growing passenger number demand.
He said last week he didn’t understand why everyone only thought about the new airport at Montijo when there were problems to resolve at the current airport and accused the airports management company ANA of failing to invest in infrastructure while warning that with continuing uncertainties about the future, TAP would no longer invest in growth either.
“Portela is the worst airport in the world and will only get worse this year and next,” Neves said at a press conference in which he announced losses of €105.6 million.