Angola: Oil company Sonangol eyes stakes in Portuguese and Spanish banks

31 December 2007

Lisbon, Portugal, 31 Dec – Following its acquisition of a 49.9 percent shareholding in Millennium Angola, part of the Millennium BCP group, Angolan state oil firm Sonangol is set to take a 25 percent stake in the Fomento bank, part of the BPI group, weekly newspaper Expresso reporter at the weekend.

Sonangol board chairman Manuel Vicente told Expresso that Angola’s state energy company will also join forces with the Espirito Santo bank (BES) to invest in oil exploration projects in Brazil.

Sonangol is also seeking to acquire a stake in BES Angola, currently 80 percent owned by BES and 20 percent by Geni, a capital management company owned by Isabel dos Santos, daughter of Angola’s president, according to Expresso.

The possible BES-Sonangol joint venture could also involve the BES holding company Escom, currently involved in diamond exploration in Angola, entering offshore oil exploration ventures in Angola.

BES chairman Ricardo Salgado said recently that “there have been no signs” from Luanda over the need to increase the amount of BESA shares held by Angolan investors, but said some shares could be offered.

Luanda’s stock exchange is due to begin trading in the first quarter of 2008, with six listed companies, according to the head of the bourse’s regulator, Antonio de Cruz Lima.

Expresso reported that Banco Fomento Angola (BFA) has pressed the Luanda authorities to allow Sonangol to purchase 49 percent of its shares.

Sonangol will also buy a 25 percent stake in Totta-Angola, owned by Spain’s Santander group .

Angola currently has 19 licensed banks and 17 of these are trading. Three of these are state banks, including Banco de Poupança e Credito, the main competitor to market leader Fomento Angola of the BPI group. (macauhub)