Brazilian group Oi may keep stake in Angola’s Unitel

19 May 2015

Brazilian telecommunications group Oi is reassessing the put option on the 25 percent stake it holds in Angola’s Unitel, said the group’s chief executive, Bayard Gontijo, speaking to the Reuters news agency.

Gontijo said that the stake in the Angolan company remains on the list of African assets for sale, but added that the aboard was working on two possible scenarios, one of which is the sale and the other “the resolution of long-standing disputes … in a structure where the shareholder agreement is respected by the parties.”

The second option would include this African asset in Oi’s accounts and unlock the process of payment of 246 million euros in dividends that have gone unpaid since 2011, said the CEO of the Brazilian group.

“We are changing the centre of gravity from Lisbon to Brasilia,” said Bayard Gontinjo, even commenting that relations with businesswoman Isabel dos Santos, the largest shareholder of Unitel, “are improving and evolving.”

The stake in Unitel, and in other African assets, was inherited by Oi from Portugal Telecom SGPS, following a capital increase resulting from the merger of the businesses.

The conflict between Unitel and Oi dates back to September 2014, when the Brazilian operator announced that it wanted to sell the 25 percent stake it holds in Unitel, via Africatel – a vehicle company it inherited from PT SGPS.

Unitel, which has the businesswoman Isabel dos Santos as one of its main shareholders, argues that it has the right of first refusal on the 25 percent that PT owns in Unitel in cases of sales or mergers (as was the case of Oi/PT SGPS ). (macauhub/AO/BR/PT)