Sonangol and Angolan investors to be majority shareholders in joint venture with Geocapital

23 June 2008

Lisbon, Portugal, 23 June – Angolan state oil firm Sonangol and investors from Angola will hold the majority of shares in Geopactum in a joint venture with Geocapital, the holding company for investment in Portuguese speaking countries of businessmen Stanley Ho and Jorge Ferro Ribeiro, which is still negotiating with Sonangol to take a stake in Banco Privado Atlântico (BPA), media and company sources said.

Ferro Ribeiro told Portuguese business daily Diário Económico: “Talks (over BPA) are in progress and the deal could be finalized at any moment.”

BPA is the partner in Angola of Millennium BCP, Portugal’s biggest private bank, which numbers Sonangol and Stanley Ho among its core shareholders.

Ferro Ribeiro told Diário Econónico that Geocapital plans to use Macau to attract Asian investment in Lusophone African states such as Guinea- Bissau, where the holding company has already entered the banking and finance sector, and in Mozambique where it set up Moza Banco last week.

“We will identify the most interesting investment opportunities in Mozambique and then seek to structure operations in partnership with international investors, particularly from Macau, Hong Kong and China, where we sense the greater inclination,” added Ferro Ribeiro.

As with the recently created bank in Mozambique, most of Geopactum’s capital will be Angolan.

“This company will be 51 percent owned by Angolan investors and Geocapital will hold 49 percent and will develop projects in the financial and energy sectors,” said the executive from Geocapital, which announced this month it plans to invest close to US$ 40 billion until 2018 in production of biofuels in Lusophone Africa.

The Geocapital-Sonangol partnership represents a change in the strategy originally outlined for entry into the Angolan market.

Before its partnership with Angola’s state-owned energy company, now a key player in the financial sector, Geocapital consolidated its position in Angola via Banco Angolano de Negócios e Comércio (BANC) of businessman Kundi Paihama, where it will take a key shareholding, according to the Africa Monitor newsletter.

BANC had been geared to serving Angola’s Chinese community through offer of private investment via credit facilities or share issues.

The partnership between BANC and Geocapital came on the heels of a Luanda visit at the end of 2007 by Geocapital’s Ferro Ribeiro.

The Macau-based holding company first moved into the Lusophone African financial sector in mid-2007 when it bought the 60 percent stake of Portugal’s Montepio Geral in Banco da África Ocidental (BAO), where Stanley Ho and Ferro Ribeiro are partners with prominent Guinean businessman Carlos Domingues Gomes.

Despite the modest scale of Guinea’s banking sector, BAO has added value due to its authorization to open branches in member states of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) – Benin, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo. (macauhub)