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LISBON, Nov 19 (Reuters) - Portugal's government expects to receive at least two rival bids for flag carrier TAP, which has improved its fundamentals since the last failed attempt to privatise the airline in 2012, state secretary for transport Sergio Monteiro said on Wednesday.
Last week, the government announced the re-launch of the privatisation of TAP, in which it plans to sell a 61 percent controlling stake to one or several large investors.
Monteiro said the process would go ahead even with one offer, as happened in 2012 before the only bid was disqualified for insufficient financial guarantees, but the government expected a better scenario this time around.
"Let me be clear about that, we expect that there will be two or more bids," he told reporters, adding that TAP was now more attractive to investors after having endured the entry of low-cost airlines like Ryan Air and Easyjet into the Portuguese market since 2012.
"TAP has resisted well... Although there is a reduction in margins on flights in Europe, we did not see that the competition has grown at the expense of TAP's market share. TAP maintains the same market share," Monteiro said.
"That endurance test has been substantially left behind and the company is in a better economic state," he added, noting that the fact that TAP had reduced its debt and practically turned around its problematic Brazilian unit should help the privatisation process.
The airline still has a sizeable debt of some 1 billion euros ($1.3 billion).
In 2012, the government rejected the only valid offer for TAP, made by Latin American tycoon German Efromovich, owner of AviancaTaca, citing his failure to meet financing requirements. (Reporting By Daniel Alvarenga, writing by Andrei Khalip; editing by Ralph Boulton)