Cape Verde will be Geocapital’s next “stronghold” in the Portuguese-speaking African finance sector.

16 February 2009

Macau, China, 16 Feb – Geocapital should soon enter the finance sector of a fourth Portuguese-speaking African country – Cape Verde – following Guinea Bissau in 2007 and Angola and Mozambique last year.

The company belonging to Stanley Ho and Ferro Ribeiro looks set to acquire the 27 percent stake held by the Portuguese Montepio Geral in the Caixa Economica de Cabo Verde, the country’s most important bank commonly referred to as the Caixa, according to the Africa Monitor newsletter.

Geocapital also bought Guinea Bissau’s Banco da Africa Ocidental (BAO) in 2007 from Montepio Geral, which is now in the process of increasing its capital stock five-fold to 8 million Euros and expanding its branch network.

With 44 percent of the capital giving it control, Geocapital’s partners are Guinean bank, Banco Efisa (15 percent) and various small Guinean investors.

On securing entry into the Cape Verdean Caixa, Ho and Ferro Ribeiro will have the archipelago’s Correios de Cabo Verde and the Instituto de Seguranca Social as partners.“The operation underlines the priority given to the finance sector as a growth area in Geocapital’s interests in Portuguese-speaking African countries,” wrote Africa Monitor.

In 2007, the two businessmen negotiated the purchase of Banco de Desenvolvimento e Comercio from Montepio, though the negotiations broke down, and Geocapital withdrew and formed a bank with local partners – Moza Banco – set up last year.

With over 200 Mozambican shareholders, US$10 million stock capital and an ex-chairman of the Banco Central (Prakash Ratilal) to head the institution, Moza Banco wants to be involved in agricultural, energy and biofuel development projects in the Zambezi Valley.It has already been involved in a financial operation between China’s Eximbank and a large Mozambican business group to acquire agricultural machinery and equipment.At the end of 2008, a partnership was announced between Geocapital and Sonangol – the Geopactum when Ho and Ferro Ribeiro took a stake in Banco Privado Atlantico (BPA).This partnership has implications for the management of Portugal’s biggest private bank, Millennium bcp, since the Angolans hold 10 percent and Stanley Ho around 3 percent of the capital, making it the main force on the Board.Initial plans for Angola include acquisition of a stake in Kundi Paihama’s Banco Angolano de Negocios e Comercio (BANC), targeting the Chinese community, through private sector investments, with lending or the acquisition of stakes.

The production of biofuels, from the cultivation of jathropha is equally central to Geocapital’s investment plans in Portuguese-speaking African countries.

The project in Guinea Bissau is the furthest advanced and Geocapital is currently looking to include other partners.

In all Portuguese-speaking countries, Ho and Ferro Ribeiro have announced they plan to invest close to US$40 billion until 2018 in the development of biofuels. (macauhub)

MACAUHUB FRENCH