Angola: Big companies “full” of influential figures

22 September 2008

Luanda, Angola, 22 Sep – Within the main Angolan companies and business groups the majority of shareholders are also influential figures in the country, as recently demonstrated by Unitel’s purchase of its first stake in Banco de Fomento Angola (BFA).

Isabel dos Santos, eldest daughter of the Angolan president, is now one of the most important businesspeople in the country and last week widened her investment portfolio to include the biggest Angolan bank, Fomento, part of the Portuguese group, BPI.

Angolan operator Unitel, whose main shareholder is the Geni group, to which Isabel dos Santos belongs, will buy a 49.9 percent share of Fomento’s capital stock for 338 million euros, which will give it the right to participate in the management of BFA, according to statements from both parties.

Unitel, which has some 4 million customers in Angola, is still partially owned by Portugal Telecom, which has a 25 percent share of the capital.

As well as being an investor in the real estate and tourism sectors throughout the country, Isabel dos Santos also holds a share in Banco BIC, the fastest growing in a sector that, according to the consultants Delloite, “continues to show signs of vigorous activity, strengthening its position within the economy.”

BIC recently set up in Portugal, where one of its main functions will be as an investment bank for Angolan wealth, and has plans to expand to the Democratic Republic of Congo and Namibia, in a strategy of “support for the globalization of Angolan and Portuguese companies.”

Isabel dos Santos’ partner in BIC is the richest man in Portugal, Americo Amorim, head of the world’s largest cork producer, and both will also be together in the biggest Portuguese company Galp Energia, according to some analists.

Sonogal has a 45 percent share in Amorim Energia, (held in the name of offshore registered, “Esperanza”), the remaining 55 percent held by Amorim, Caixa Galicia and two anonymous offshore companies, possibly linked to Isabel dos Santos.

Positions within this holding must be maintained until the end of 2010, according to an agreement between Amorim Energia shareholders.

Recently, the president of Italian oil company, ENI, that also holds a third of Galp, admitted pulling out of the Portuguese company, promising developments within “three to five years.”

Yet the list of influential figures with prominence in the Angolan business world also includes political leaders, ministers, ex-governors and even some of their family members.

According to the Semanario Angolense, published in Luanda, the Banco Comercial de Angola has three ex prime ministers amongst its shareholders – Lopo de Nascimento, Franca Van Dunen and Marcolino Moco – among other governors.

Higino Carneiro, ex-minister for Public Works, set up the Cabuta Organizations, present in agriculture, agri-industry, hotels, banks and insurance sectors according to the Diario Economico of Lisbon.

Jose Pedro Morais, Finance Minister, Pedro Neto and Kundi Paihama are the shareholders of Angolan lotteries franchise holder, Finangest, also an investor in the Health sector, according to the company website.

Also investing in the health area is the Gema group, owner of cinemas, supermarkets and shareholder in Coca-Cola Angola, headed by the ex-Presidency minister, Jose Leitao.

General Joao de Matos, ex-Chief of Staff of the Angolan Army and his company, Genius, that also has ex-governor of the Banco Nacional de Angola, Mario Pizarro as a shareholder, has won important diamond mining concessions, such as the recent Cafulo (Cuando Chubango) and has also diversified the business into areas such as telecommunications, real estate and energy.

Armindo Cesar & Filhos, Imporafrica, Macon, Mello Xavier, Pecus, Prodoil, Sagripek, Somoil and Suninvest are other important names in the Angolan business world.

To the south of the country the Angolan group, Valentim Amoes is particularly prominent, whose founder and successor were killed in a road accident at the beginning of this year.

According to newsletter Africa Monitor, the group should soon have a new partner, after a selection process carried out by international consultants Ernst & Young.With assets worth an estimated US$1 billion, the Amoes group is attracting the active interest of the Angolan business elite and an offer of US$ 200 million for a 30 percent share in the group’s capital is already on the table. (macauhub)

MACAUHUB FRENCH