Portugal to assess value of airline TAP ahead of privatisation

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FILE PHOTO: A TAP Air Portugal plane taxis at Lisbon's airport

By Sergio Goncalves

LISBON (Reuters) - Portugal's government has mandated state holding company Parpublica to pick two independent assessors to value airline TAP ahead of its privatisation, which could be launched in July, the finance minister said on Thursday.

The state owns 100% of TAP, which is currently restructuring under a Brussels-approved 3.2 billion euro ($3.5 billion) rescue plan, and the government is considering an outright or partial sale.

"These two independent assessments are mandatory before launching the privatisation. Our expectation is that we can approve the privatisation before the summer, around July," Fernando Medina told reporters.

He said the government sought to preserve TAP's "intrinsic value, as a company that generates value from its hub in Lisbon", highlighting also that the airline swung to a profit in 2022, earlier than expected in its restructuring plan.

Reuters reported two weeks ago that Lufthansa, Air France-KLM and British Airways owner IAG were laying the groundwork for potential bids for TAP, sounding out local communications agencies and legal advisers.

"The various expressions of interest are known. We expect that they will materialise in the greatest possible number when we reach the phase of presenting the proposals," Medina said.

He said TAP's final value would depend on the synergies that each candidate could achieve with the Portuguese airline.

Infrastructure Minister Joao Galamba said "the Lisbon hub is already and will be in the future a hub for the production and distribution of synthetic fuels for aviation", calling it a great opportunity for TAP and a likely factor in its valuation.

($1 = 0.9065 euros)

(Reporting by Sergio Goncalves; Editing by Mark Potter)