TAP shareholders showing ‘0’ commitment to airline
Portugal’s Minister of Infrastructure and Housing says that TAP’s private shareholders have not shown any commitment to the future of the national airline.
Pedro Santos Nunes said he had confidence in the TAP board of directors (that has six State representatives) but avoided saying he had confidence in the airline’s Executive Commission made up of members of the Atlantic Gateway Consortium – the private owners who have a large share in the airline.
In June 2015, TAP was semi-privatised and became majority-owned by the Atlantic Gateway Consortium, led by David Neeleman, who founded JetBlue and Azul Brazilian Airlines and co-founded WestJet, together with Portuguese entrepreneur Humberto Pedrosa. The Atlantic Gateway Consortium purchased 61% of the carrier from the government of Portugal on 24 June 2015, with an option to buy the Portuguese government’s remaining 34 percent stake in 2018. This deal has been surrounded in controversy because it was completed at the end of the centre-right government’s mandate with wide opposition from TAP employees.
On October 2015, the PS Socialist Government of António Costa sought to return majority control of the airline to the state, having signed in February 2016 a deal with the private consortium, which indicates that the company is 50% owned by the Portuguese State, 45% by the Atlantic Gateway Consortium and 5% available shareholder to collaborators and employees of TAP Air Portugal.
Pedro Nuno Santos said this week that a court injunction against a €1.2Bn State loan to TAP filed by the Porto Commercial Association (ACP) and accepted by the Supreme Court should not stop the cash injection without which the airline will go bankrupt.
“The State will continue to have ways of helping the airline company” he said in a Podcast.
“The commitment and efforts of the private shareholders in the future of TAP is zero,” said the minister, adding “their interests are not aligned with the interests of the country or those of the Portuguese people.”
Pedro Nunes Santos is critical of TAP’s executive commission stating, “The minimum for those who don’t have the financial resources to inject into the company at the moment (i.e., the private shareholders) is that the loans on the company that the shareholders have should not be acted upon”.
“But the private shareholders are not open to this because they are just not that committed to the future of the airline,” he said.
And continued, “It bewilders me that the CEO of a company (Antonoaldo Neves) who has come cap-in-hand (for State handouts) thinks that it can treat the State in such a manner and then say they are open to having a State representative on the Executive Commission as if they are doing us a favour.”