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Synergy Says It Made Binding Offer to Buy Portugal’s TAP

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

“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 TAP, had until noon in Lisbon to present a detailed bid to state-asset holding company Parpublica. The offer was less than 500 million euros ($645 million), said a person familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified because the process is confidential. That figure was the maximum estimate of Donal O’Neill, an analyst at Goodbody Stockbrokers in Dublin.

Portugal is selling Lisbon-based TAP after becoming the third euro-area country to seek a bailout from the International Monetary Fund and the European Union. TAP offers 74 weekly flights to Brazil and Africa and serves 46 routes within Europe. That would provide 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.

Polish Citizenship

Because of EU rules that limit outside ownership of the bloc’s airlines at 49 percent, Efromovich sought Polish citizenship, based on his parents’ country of origin, to qualify for a larger purchase. He was certified as a 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.

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