Portuguese banks pardon US$22.3 million of Guinea Bissau’s debt

4 December 2006

Bissau, Guinea Bissau, 04 Dec – The Totta branch of the Santander Group and Crédito Predial Portugues (CPP) pardoned a debt totaling US$22.3 million owed by two Guiea Bissau companies undergoing liquidation, Guinea’s Finance Minister said Saturday in Bissau.

In a press conference, Vítor Mandinga noted that the agreement was reached by the Guinean government in Lisbon and covered Banco Internacional da Guinea Bissau (BIGB), closed in 1998 and department store Armazéns do Povo.

Mandinga said that the agreement with the Santander group and CPP pardoned a total debt of US$17.8 million in relation to BIGB and US$4.5 million for Armazéns do Povo, which was owed to Totta bank, now part of the Santander group.

“The process of liquidation of the two companies (underway for almost a decade) is now easier and we are grateful for the charitable gesture and goodwill of Grupo Santander and CPP,” said Mandinga, giving no further details.

The former Banco Totta & Açores, which is now part of the Santander Group, had a branch in Bissau until 2002, and was the only private bank in Bissau, when it left the country saying it needed to restructure its services.

Totta had a significant stake in BIGB, whose bad debts totaled some US$1 million. (macauhub)