The Minister of Infrastructure and Housing guaranteed today that the Government does not want Groundforce to “fall”
Pedro Nuno Santos admitted that the solution to the problems that the airport assistance company faces due to the pandemic "is not easy".
"The Portuguese State and the Government do not want Groundforce to fall, they do not want Groundforce to disappear, we are finding a decent solution for the company and, at the same time, for TAP", said Pedro Nuno Santos, who is to be heard in the Assembly of the Republic.
"We [Governo] we have to find a solution, we will do our job, it is not easy, but we are doing it ”, he added.
According to the official, it is necessary to find a “structural solution” for the ‘handling’ company, whose financial situation was harmed by the covid-19 pandemic and the restrictive measures to air circulation.
After weeks of negotiations with the private shareholder that owns 50.1% of Groundforce, Alfredo Casimiro, it was possible to reach an agreement to unblock funds that will allow workers to pay overdue wages and face the most pressing expenses.
The agreement provides that TAP (minority shareholder and main customer) buys the handling company's equipment for around seven million euros and that Groundforce pays 461,762 euros a month to TAP for the rental of the equipment that the company bought from it.
In this way, Groundforce has a two-month “oxygen balloon”, but it needs more assistance to keep it up and running.
“We are working on a structural solution for the company, we do not give up, but, obviously, we have a problem. The company will hardly have anything else to give to TAP in April, we need to be aware of that ”, said Pedro Nuno Santos, recalling that“ TAP cannot continue to make advances ”to Groundforce.
Asked about the capital increase that was on the table, the Minister of Infrastructure said that TAP's proposal failed, because "the private shareholder does not have the money to invest in TAP, but he also does not want TAP to sell alone".
Last week, Alfredo Casimiro said, during a parliamentary hearing, that he was able to respond to the capital increase, but that he needed to see the renewal of the service provision contract with TAP guaranteed for another 10 years.
“We are missing someone who has tens of millions of euros in debt. If you have millions of euros to make a capital increase, you had to pay whoever you owe ”, considered the Minister of Infrastructure today.
Regarding the news that has been advanced by some media, to note that Montepio, which has the pledge of Alfredo Casimiro's shares in Groundforce, has already started the process of execution of the attachment, Pedro Nuno Santos said that, to be true, "it is good news".
“If this is true, it opens up a new perspective on solving the Groundforce problem, because I think one of the main problems […] it is the current private shareholder ”, underlined the minister.