Portugal postpones state airline privatization
A Portuguese state airline TAP Air Portugal's worker places candles that form the word TAP during a vigil outside the Portuguese cabinet meeting building against the privatization of the company, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012. The Portuguese government plans to sell the company as part of an economic recovery program linked to a euro 78 billion ($102 billion) bailout needed last year. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
LISBON, Portugal - The Portuguese government announced Thursday it has postponed the privatization of national airline TAP Air Portugal after the sole bidder failed to provide required financial guarantees.
The government said that Brazil-based Synergy Aerospace offered to pay €35 million ($46.5 million) for TAP, invest €316 million in the company and take on the flag carrier's estimated €1.2 billion debt.
Secretary of state for the treasury Maria Teresa Albuquerque said Synergy didn't produce the necessary bank guarantees, however.
She said the government still intends to sell TAP at a later date and after a re-evaluation of the privatization process.
TAP recorded losses of €76.8 million in 2011, when it carried 9.75 million passengers. In 2010, TAP posted a loss of €57 million.
The outcome was a setback for the government, which is selling off state companies as one of the conditions of last year's €78 billion bailout. The privatization revenue helps pay off public debt, which is forecast to reach almost 120 per cent of gross domestic product this year.
The government is set to announce next week the result of the privatization of national airport management company ANA. Four suitors — Argentina's Corporacion America and three European rivals — have tabled offers, with the government hoping to raise at least €2.5 billion.
Earlier this year the government sold power company Energias de Portugal and power grid operator REN to Chinese companies for a combined total of €3.3 billion.
On the block next year, the government says, will be national mail company CTT, waste treatment company EGF, the national rail cargo operator, and possibly one of state broadcaster RTP's two main channels.
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