UPDATE 4-Portugal gets three bids in TAP airline privatisation
(Updates with three bids confirmed, government briefing)
By Sergio Goncalves and Andrei Khalip
LISBON May 15 (Reuters) - Portugal's government has received three bids for the struggling state-owned flag carrier TAP in its second attempt to privatise the heavily indebted airline since 2012, Transport Secretary Sergio Monteiro said on Friday.
He would not disclose the names of investors or institutions who made the offers, but sources close to the process told Reuters two Brazil-based aviation tycoons and one Portuguese investor had presented the offers by Friday's deadline.
One of the interested parties was Brazilian-American businessman David Neeleman, the founder of U.S. airline JetBlue and CEO of Azul Brazilian Airlines, a source said.
Brazilian-Colombian investor German Efromovich had also made an offer, a source said. Efromovich controls Latin America's Avianca via his holding Synergy and had made a bid for TAP in 2012. That was rejected at the time because of a problem with financial guarantees.
TAP operates a fleet of 77 planes with 2,500 weekly flights, many of them to Brazil, with which Portugal has historic ties.
Because of European Union state-aid rules, the government cannot inject capital into TAP, which has debts of over 1 billion euros. It does not expect much revenue from the sale, but hopes that investors will rid the state of the debt.
The source would not give details on whether Efromovich was bidding alone or with partners. A newsletter published by Airline Economics magazine reported earlier that Efromovich was bidding, as well as U.S. fund Greybull Capital. Continuación...