LISBON, July 2 (Reuters) - Portugal’s government and private shareholders in ailing flag carrier TAP are close to sealing a deal that would give the state a controlling stake while avoiding a full-scale nationalisation, two sources with knowledge of the talks said.
The state now holds a 50% stake in TAP.
One of the sources said the negotiations had accelerated in the early hours of Thursday, leading to a draft agreement under which Brazilian-American aviation entrepreneur David Neeleman would cease being a TAP shareholder, while Portuguese entrepreneur Humberto Pedrosa would stay on.
Neeleman and Pedrosa are the two partners in the Atlantic Gateway consortium that has a 45% stake in the airline and has until now resisted government plans to grant TAP a 1.2 billion euro rescue loan that would entail more government control.
A second source said the agreement is almost sealed, only missing a few details, namely regarding the exact increase of the state’s ownership and the final stake for Pedrosa.
The Infrastructure Ministry declined to comment. (Reporting by Sergio Goncalves, editing by Andrei Khalip)