Groundforce will have a new majority shareholder, Menzies Aviation, with 50.1%, and TAP will remain the capital of the airport ground handling company. According to the statement sent by the airline, the agreement closed this Tuesday between Spdh (which owns the Groundforce brand) and its “subsidiary TAP and the Portuguese company Menzies Aviation” of the Kuwait Agility Group. This is one of the largest groups in this sector worldwide.
Nothing is concretely said about the plan to be voted on at the meeting of creditors, in order to recover the company which is in the process of bankruptcy, but it is stated that if all goes as planned, “Groundforce shall be capitalized by the chosen investor, the latter becoming the owner of the majority of the share capital.” concerned money.”
The remaining capital will be subscribed by TAP, through transfer credits on Groundforce, without additional capital contribution. TAP said nothing about the shareholding positions it and Menzies would fill, but this Wednesday the company indicated, in a statement, that it would retain 50.1% of Groundforce.
Menzies is confident of the sector’s recovery
Menzies Chairman Hassan El-Houri said in a statement that he was encouraged “by the pace of recovery of passengers and cargo after the disruptions caused by the pandemic.” For this official, the now-announced deal demonstrates the company’s ability to enter a new, relevant market, presenting itself as a “long-term investor.”
Currently, Groundforce is owned by Pasogal, 50.1% owned by Alfredo Casemiro and 49.9% owned by TAP SGPS. These capitalist attitudes must be mitigated in the process Pay creditors And the recovery of the company, with the emergence of a new recapitalization solution that includes Menzies and keeps the TAP stake.
The sale of assets in companies considered non-core, such as Groundforce and Cateringpor, was part of the agreement concluded with the European Commission within the scope of the restructuring plan, with the aim of “reducing competition distortions” caused by the public subsidy of 3200 million (such as the granting of 18 landing and take-off permits in a period certain time in Lisbon, which was with EasyJet).
However, as it has now been announced, TAP will still be a shareholder – at least at this point. PÚBLICO has sent questions to TAP and the government about this deal, which are waiting to be answered.
André Teves, president of the Airport Handling Technicians Association (STHA), hopes it will be possible to hold the creditors’ meeting in July. “We are taking big steps to solve everything,” he says, noting that Alfredo Casemiro and Bank Montepio (which now owns the Pasogal/Casimiro stakes) have given up trying to challenge the process.
15.5 million debts to TAP
In the case of the transfer of credits by TAP, the insolvency administrators calculated a debt of €15.5 million from Groundforce to the airline (its principal business partner) between the privileged, joint and subordinated (last to be paid) credits. 15.5 million euros divided into six different debts, among which there are 10.7 million euros (normal credit) and four million (privileged credit).
This last tranche of debt relates to Employment Credits by Solutions, while the first tranche relates to a transaction agreement established between the two companies at the beginning of December last year. Among the creditors and workers, companies such as ANA – Aeroportos de Portugal also stand out.
In the middle of the process, it is possible that Groundforce’s participation will pass to TAP SA, which will be partially privatized, leaving TAP SGPS (which no longer has capital in TAP SA, the air carrier) to be the shareholder in Ground Assistance.
Groundforce is the largest ground handling company in Portugal, competing with Portway, from ANA. As for Menzies Aviation, the British company was bought in August last year by Agility for about 866 million euros, which it joined with National Aviation Services. This deal, as it was announced at the time, led to the emergence of the largest airline services company in the world with (58) countries and the second in the number of airports (254). Agility is associated with the State of Kuwait, and is listed on stock exchanges in that country and in Dubai.
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