Angola’s Sonangol eyes hospital business in Portugal

10 April 2012

The hospital business in Portugal is one of the targets of Angolan oil company Sonangol, at a time when the financial crisis in Portugal is attracting Angolan, Brazilian and Chinese investors to study acquisitions and privatisations, according to the Africa Monitor newsletter.

Last week Africa Monitor reported that Angolan state company Sonangol planned to compete for the privatisation of private hospital network HPP Saúde – Hospitais Privados de Portugal, owned by state financial group Caixa Geral de Depósitos and that it had informed the Portuguese government of its intentions, specifically Portugal’s Finance Minister, Vitor Gaspar, during his recent visit to Luanda.

The hospital sector is one of Sonangol’s non-oil business areas and the oil company is partnering Caixa Geral de Depósitos to set up a development bank in Angola in 2012 the capital (US$400 million) of which will be split equally between the partners.

The sale of HPP is just one of several large deals in Portugal that has attracted investors from Angola, Brazil and China.

Brazilian group Camargo Corrêa has launched a takeover bid for Portugal-based cement group Cimentos de Portugal (Cimpor), in which it is already the largest shareholder with a stake of 32.9 percent.

In the banking sector, in the last few days the acquisition of Banco Português de Negócios (BPN) by Angola’s BIC was concluded.

Italy’s ENI is selling the first 5 percent of its 33 percent stake in Galp Energia to Amorim Energia, which is owned by Sonangol and by Portuguese group Amorim.

Keith Mullin, of the International Finance Review (Thomson Reuters group), after a trip to Lisbon last week, wrote that Portugal had become a “nest of mergers and acquisitions,” despite the effects of the crisis dominating public discussions.

Despite deals such as the takeover bid for highway concession-holder Brisa by the José de Mello group and Arcus Infrastructure Partners involving mainly European capital, most of the recent deals have involved Portuguese-speaking countries and also China.

“These deals perfectly show the spirit (of Portugal to attract capital flow between Portuguese-speaking countries), although some smile awkwardly at the idea of Angolan and Brazilian interests taking advantage of low cost assets in Portugal, like some sort of reverse colonisation,” Mullin said.

Companies from China have so far taken most advantage of privatisations in Portugal, first with the acquisition of 21 percent of power company Energias de Portugal (EDP) by China Three Gorges (CTG), at the end of last year.

This deal was followed by the acquisition of part of power grid company Redes Energéticas Nacionais (REN) by the State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC). (macauhub)