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Portugal’s TAP Contacted ‘All the Time’ by Potential Investors

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Oct. 7 (Bloomberg) -- Portuguese state airline TAP SGPS SA said it’s being continuously contacted by potential investors as the government looks to restart an auction 10 months after blocking a takoever by Brazilian bidders.

Potential purchasers from Europe and beyond are showing an interest in Lisbon-based TAP “all the time,” spurred by its links to emerging markets including Portugal’s former colonies, Chief Financial Officer Michael Conolly said in an interview.

“I am convinced that we have a very valuable piece in the chess game of alliances,” Conolly said, citing TAP’s 80 weekly flights to African and South American destinations such as Angola, Mozambique, Ghana, Mali and nine cities in Brazil. He declined to say how much the airline might fetch.

Portugal said July 18 it would seek to restart a sale of TAP in 2013 after last year spurning Brazilian investor German Efromovich’s Synergy Group, which controls the Avianca airline brands and had made the sole offer during an auction. It agreed to dispose of the flag-carrier after requesting a bailout by the International Monetary Fund and European Union in 2011.

While a deal with Efromovich would have created a “good partnership,” there are further options available to TAP, with other airlines coming forward despite market conditions that would suggest interest in a takeover would be low, Conolly said.

Efromovich said on Sept. 10 that TAP might no longer be first choice as a vehicle for expanding Synergy in Europe.

A sale would bring in fresh capital to fund growth, Conolly said, adding that TAP’s route network “fits very well” with the strategies of several other airlines. The company’s first-half loss narrowed marginally to 111 million euros ($151 million) from 112 million euros a year earlier.

To contact the reporter on this story: Henrique Almeida in Lisbon at halmeida5@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Benedikt Kammel at bkammel@bloomberg.net; Jerrold Colten at jcolten@bloomberg.net

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