Last Update: at 13:12

Exit of David Neeleman?

TAP could be nationalized

The Government cannot agree with the private shareholders on their contribution for the rescue of TAP. Now the national airline may be nationalised.

Tis Meyer/

Airbus A320 from Tap: Soon to be mainly nationalized.

There was speculation at the beginning of the year that the private shareholder had lost interest in TAP. Jetblue, Azul and Breeze founder David Neeleman and the Portuguese entrepreneur Humberto Pedrosa wanted to sell their 45 percent share of the Portuguese national airline, held via the joint company Atlantic Gateway, according to rumours. Lufthansa and United Airlines were ready to be buyers.

The plans were rendered obsolete by the Corona crisis. TAP, which was already in the red before the lockdown, has been even more seriously affected since then. The Portuguese government therefore wants to help the airline with an emergency loan of up to 1.2 billion euros. But in return it is demanding a contribution from private shareholders.

Private shareholders should waive credit balances

How big the contribution should be, that was not agreed upon. On Monday (June, 29) the last negotiations failed, writes the newspaper Expresso. Therefore, the government plans to nationalize the airline. A decree to that effect has already been drafted.

Infrastructure Minister Pedro Nuno Santos confirmed the intention at a parliamentary session on Tuesday. «If the private individuals do not accept our conditions, we will have to intervene with a nationalisation,» he said according to the Expresso newspaper. They would not give in and «we are ready to intervene to save the company».

Semi-private since 2016

It appears that the State required the private shareholders to waive 227 million euros that TAP owed them for services rendered. He later reduced the amount. But an agreement was still not reached.

As a compromise, it is now still possible for the state to simply buy out Neeleman. He is said to have been the one who resisted the last offer. Pedrosa would then remain on board – albeit with a small share. TAP was first privatized by a majority in 2015, but a year later the state bought back 50 percent of the shares.

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