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Lusa - Business News - Cabo Verde: Government set to start talks to reverse privatisation of airline

Praia, June.21,2021(Lusa)- Cabo Verde's government is this week to start negotiations to reverse the privatisation of Cabo Verde Airlines (CVA), a decision that the prime minister said is justified by the unwillingness of the Icelandic investors who lead the company to inject the capital that the airline needs.
"The government will initiate a process to reverse the privatisation of the fifty-one percent of the capital that is in the possession, today, of Loftleidir Icelandic, taking into account that we are not expecting that in the near future, first, there will be an injection of capital by the strategic partner in order to ensure the perpetuation and continuity of the company's operations," said the prime minister, Ulisses Correia e Silva, speaking to public television on Sunday evening from Sal.
As a second reason, Correia e Silva cited the alleged "failure to comply with some agreements established in March" between the government and the CVA management, to allow the resumption of the company's operations after 15 months of suspension due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In March 2019, the state sold 51% of then public company TACV (Transportes Aereos de Cabo Verde) for €1.3 million to Lofleidir Cabo Verde, a company owned 70% by Loftleidir Icelandic EHF (Icelandair group, which took 36% of the new CVA unit) and 30% by Icelandic entrepreneurs with experience in the aviation sector (who took over the remaining 15% stake of the 51% of the company's shares that were privatised).
CVA, in which the state now holds a 39% stake, then focussed on international flights from its hub on Sal, dropping all domestic flights.
The company was to have resumed international flights last Friday, with a flight between Sal and Lisbon that ended up not taking place, after several hours of waiting at the airport, due to lack of authorisation from ASA, that state-owned company that manages Cabo Verde airports and airspace, in an alleged dispute about delayed payments by the company that has not yet been clarified by any of the parties.
"We will always be on the side of protecting the national interest," said Correia e Silva. "That is what we will do, in the sense of creating all the conditions for the resumption of flights to be a sustained resumption, which is not just about making more connections, but about guaranteeing that the company can be restructured, can carry out its operations, can satisfy its commitments to creditors and suppliers."
He added that after the company is restructured, officials would move forward to "seek a new strategic partner". In the meantime, the state would "fully take on the management" of CVA, to "safeguard the national interest" in operating international flights.
"We want to ensure the company's sustainability," he said. "It's not just about making flights, but making sure that the company is sustainable, that it can endure and last for a long time."
Correia e Silva has since Sunday been on Sal, where CVA has its hub and where its CEO, Erlendur Svavarsson, is based.
"In the coming days we will negotiate the best way out with our partner," said the prime minister, while stressing that "it was not a mistake" to choose Icelandic investors to lead the company. He recalled that in 2019 "market conditions were different" and that airlines "are the most affected" of companies by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The government in late February announced an agreement with CVA's management for it to resume operations, providing for a renegotiation with creditors, including the Icelandair group, which supplies the company's aircraft through Loftleidir.
In the wake of that agreement, the government on 6 March authorised a fifth state guarantee for an emergency loan request from CVA's management for €12 million, bringing the total financing requested by the company since November with state guarantees to almost €20 million, by Lusa's calculations.
The new agreement envisaged the reduction from three to two aircraft and the resumption in the short term of flights to Portugal and the US, to serve the Cabo Verde communities in those countries. In return, the state would get a stronger position on the board of directors, gaining real decision-making power.


Agency : LUSA

Date : 2021-06-22 10:30:00


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