Manuel Beja says he received a “coherent” assessment from TAP’s CEO that not signing the contract with Alexandra Reis would be more expensive.
The now ex-Chairman of TAP’s Board of Directors claims that Christine Ourmières-Widener told him that “not signing the contract would be as expensive or more expensive for TAP” than signing the contract with Alexandra Reis.
Manuel Beja, chairman of the board of directors of TAP, who was cleared on Monday, told the General Inspectorate of Finance (IGF) that he “heard from the CEO a coherent cost-benefit assessment which concluded that not signing the agreement [between TAP and the administrator] would be as costly or more costly for TAP”.
“The form of a severance agreement was the one proposed by the lawyers to accommodate the combination of the CEO and engineer Alexandra Reis,” Manuel Beja also said, quoting Christine Ourmières-Widener in her January 20 statement to the IGF as part of the report on Alexandra Reis’ exit process.
Manuel Beja, the chairman chosen by the government to act as a bridge between the state shareholder and TAP’s management team, stressed in his statements to the IGF that he had always understood the role of the chairman of the board (PCA) to be to be alert to “blind spots”. And he acknowledged that in the weeks leading up to Alexandra Reis’ departure, he observed “obvious and growing tensions” between the two managers.
He says he “tried to resolve the differences by talking to each of them.” Because “he felt that Alexandra Reis’ departure was avoidable. “When he realized that we might be heading for a breakup, he tried to share his vision with the people in charge, namely the former Secretary of State for Infrastructure and the former Minister of Infrastructure, “but there was no receptivity”.
Manuel Beja also said that the choice of SRS as TAP’s external legal counsel was an “exclusive” decision of the CEO.
The non-executive president, now dismissed, assures that he first received the text of the exit agreement on February 4, 2022, date on which Christine Ourmières-Widener asked him to confirm his availability to sign the termination agreement. On the same day, Manuel Beja assumed, he confirmed his agreement to the Secretary of State for Infrastructure, Hugo Mendes.
The selection and hiring of SRS to advise TAP in this process was not the responsibility of the PCA or the Board of Directors, he assured the IGF.
Manuel Beja also said that, to his knowledge, the relationship between SRS and TAP was only managed on the airline side by the CEO.
The departure of Alexandra Reis was not discussed by the Board of Directors or the General Assembly, Manuel Beja clarified. But he added that it was approved by the shareholder, who in this matter is represented by the guardian of the sector, more specifically by the Secretary of State for Infrastructure.
“From the moment this instruction was given by the shareholder’s representative, in a matter that is the responsibility of the shareholder, the PCA understood that it was its fiduciary responsibility to carry it out, given the economic rationality presented and the legality confirmed by the law firm hired for this purpose by the CEO,” assures Manuel Beja.