DOW JONES -May 4, 2005:
JANEIRO -- Portuguese carrier TAP Air Portugal (TPA
.YY) made an offer to buy a stake in Brazil's troubled airline Viacao Aerea Riograndense SA
or Varig, an official at Varig said Wednesday.
The official, who didn't want to be named as is customary at Varig, said TAP made the offer about two weeks ago, adding that the Portuguese company was one of several that have made offers to Varig. He declined to give any further details...
...Portugal's Jornal de Negocios newspaper on Tuesday reported that TAP had offered to merge with Varig to form a new airline for South Atlantic air traffic in which TAP would have a 20% stake and management control.
TAP officials in Lisbon contacted by Dow Jones Newswires had no comment, but the company repeatedly has said that Brazil is a key market for it.
Brazil's legislation allows foreign companies to acquire a maximum stake of 20% in Brazilian airlines.
Local newspaper O Estado de Sao Paulo reported Tuesday that the U.S.-based Texas Pacific Group (TGP.XX) was looking at a possible purchase of Varig and had begun an analysis of the financial situation of Varig in a process that could extend over a period of 90 days.
Two Brazilian entrepreneurs, Nelson Tanure and German Efromovich, who owns the small Brazilian airline Ocean Air, have separately expressed an interest in buying Varig.
...Brazil's media have speculated for months about a possible solution to save the cash-strapped airline. The government has made clear that it favors a market solution over a billion-dollar bailout of the company.
Brazil's third-largest carrier, Gol Linhas Aereas (GOL), has also been linked with a possible purchase of Varig. Gol has denied presenting any offer and, without referring specifically to Varig, said that any acquisition undertaken would have to fit in with its low-cost, low-fare strategy..."
[Edited 2005-05-04 18:20:34]