Stanley Ho and Ferro Ribeiro’s Geocapital focuses on biofuels

9 June 2008

Macau, China, 08 June – Geocapital, the holding company for investment in Portuguese-speaking countries of businessmen Stanley Ho and Jorge Ferro Ribeiro, aims to establish itself as one of the main biofuel producers worldwide by 2018, basing its operations in Angola, Mozambique and Guinea Bissau.

Ambrose So, one of Stanley Ho’s main collaborators, told Portuguese news agency Lusa in an interview last week that the project means an investment of up to US$40 billion and that “studies into the viability and development of the product are complete.”

According to recent reports in the Africa Monitor newsletter, one of the projects undergoing a technical economic viability study involves a plantation of Jatropha in a large area in the East of Guinea Bissau.
The project would be given to subsidiary Geogolfo, and would also involve the construction of a refinery, should the volume of raw material, considered to have the biggest potential for the production of “green fuels,” be deemed satisfactory.

It is expected that the Jatropha plantation would be implemented in two ways: directly by Geogolfo, in areas granted by the state, and also by the people of Guinea Bissau, based on agreements with the company.

Geocapital is currently one of the foreign investors showing the greatest interest in Guinea Bissau, where it bought a 60 percent shareholding in the Banco da Africa Ocidental (BAO) at the end of last year from Portuguese banks, Montepio Geral and Banco Efisa.

It had also been considering tourism projects, namely a hotel complex with casino on the island of Caravela in the Bijagos archipelago, designated a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO.

In the interview given to the Portuguese news agency, So said the biofuels project involves the planting of “tens of thousands” of square kilometres in the three Portuguese-speaking countries.

Production should begin within two or three years, reaching 14 million tons per year within 10 to 15 years, equivalent to 10 percent of worldwide production.

The project will involve known partners and finance will be secured through project finance.

Based in Macau, Geocapital has over recent years strengthened its presence in Portuguese-speaking countries, particularly in the finance sector.

In Mozambique, where it had already tried various approaches, it announced that it is to set up a bank, Moza Banco, in which it has a 49 percent share, the remaining 51 percent held by 150 private individuals and companies.

Plans for this country also include investments, through subsidiary Mozacorp in the Zambeze Valley region, considered to have great potential for agricultural, mining and hydroelectric projects.

Recently the Africa Monitor newsletter reported that Geocapital and Sonangol had come to an agreement over setting up a financial holding company, known as Geopactum, with the aim of investing in the financial, energy and geo-mining sectors in Angola.

Ferro Ribeiro has confirmed his desire within biofuels for “integrated projects, seriously considering establishing an industrial hub in each of the countries, supplying raw material for local agricultural production that would be jointly backed by Geocapital and also independent agricultural groups.”

The latter “would have access to a global framework of financial support and technical and technological assistance aimed at ensuring optimal conditions for production in quantity and quality, and they can make the best use of this support in the countries belonging to the project,” the businessman told Lusa. (macauhub)