On Friday, the Portuguese President blocked a government decree launching the privatization of the airline TAP, citing a lack of transparency and doubts about the future role of the state, and demanded urgent clarifications so as not to delay the process.
President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa said the TAP project was bailed out by taxpayers and has strategic value for the country, so there should be “maximum transparency in the whole process.”
The government agreed to sell at least 51% of TAP a month ago, and said it was committed to finding a partner airline that would drive its growth and hub in Lisbon and other airports.
The privatization of TAP has already attracted interest from Lufthansa, Air France-KLM and IAG, the owner of British Airways.
Rebelo de Souza said in a statement that the decree “raises multiple doubts” and that he is referring it to the government, adding that his doubts “can be clarified without significant delay, without compromising the urgency of the process.”
Prime Minister Antonio Costa said in a statement that these concerns “will be taken into due account.”
Mr. Rebelo de Sousa said he wanted clarification on “the effective capacity of the State to control and intervene in the future, given that the certificate does not explicitly anticipate or authorize, in subsequent administrative decisions, any role for the State.”
The president criticized the fact that the certificate allows TAP to “sell or acquire, even before the decision to sell, any type of asset, without the slightest accuracy or the lowest standard,” adding that “full transparency is not guaranteed.”
TAP on Tuesday reported a 62% jump in third-quarter net profit, to a record 180.5 million euros ($191 million). ($1 = 0.9463 euros) (Reporting by Sergio Goncalves; Editing by Alexander Smith)