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A little victory for former colonies: Avianca owner may purchase Portugal’s largest airline

Dec 07, 2012 8:59 am

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Avianca is the top contender to take the airline off the hands of debt-ridden Portugal and in doing so would access TAP’s 46 European routes to boost passenger volume for Avianca Brazil.

— Samantha Shankman

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BriYYZ  / Flickr.com

A TAP Portugal A319 aircraft sits outside Geneva Cointrin International Airport. BriYYZ / Flickr.com


Brazilian investor German Efromovich, owner of the Synergy group that controls the Avianca airline brands, submitted a binding offer for Portuguese state-airline TAP SA.

“I can confirm that the proposal was submitted within the deadline,” Paulo Fidalgo, a spokesman for Synergy in Lisbon, said in a telephone interview, declining to provide details.

Synergy, the only suitor to submit a preliminary offer in October for Lisbon-based TAP, had until noon in the Portuguese capital to present its detailed bid to state-asset holding company Parpublica. TAP is valued at no more than 500 million euros ($645 million), according to estimates from analyst Donal O’Neill at Goodbody Stockbrokers in Dublin.

TAP’s network includes 74 weekly flights to Brazil and Africa and 46 routes within Europe, offering dozens of connections beyond Lisbon for Synergy’s Avianca Brazil unit. A purchase would be the first instance of a company in a former colony buying the flag carrier of the former ruler. Portugal is selling TAP after becoming the third euro-area country to seek a bailout from the International Monetary Fund and European Union.

To meet EU rules that cap outside ownership of the bloc’s airlines at 49 percent, Efromovich, whose parents were from Poland, was certified as a Polish citizen on Nov. 30, Ivetta Bialy, a spokeswoman for Poland’s Mazowsze province, said yesterday by phone.

Founded in 1945 with two 21-seat Douglas DC-3s, TAP’s initial routes included a 12-stop service to Angola and Mozambique. The carrier went private in 1953, with the state retaining a majority stake, before being renationalized in 1975 following the fall of the authoritarian Estado Novo regime.

Portugal has hired Barclays Plc, Banco Espirito Santo SA, Citigroup Inc. and Credit Suisse Group AG as advisers on the disposal of TAP and state-owned airport operator ANA.

Editors: Tom Lavell, Chad Thomas

To contact the reporter on this story: Henrique Almeida in Lisbon at halmeida5@bloomberg.net. To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jerrold Colten at jcolten@bloomberg.net.

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