Angola’s Sonangol negotiates direct stake in Portugal’s Galp Energia

21 February 2011

Lisbon, Portugal, 21 Feb – Angolan oil company Sonangol wants to own a direct stake in Portugal’s Galp Energia, rather than via Amorim Energia, but its strategic orientations do not currently include boosting its shareholder position.

According to the Africa Monitor newsletter (http://www.africamonitor.net), Sonangol’s aims in relation to the current changes in shareholder structure at Galp Energia include a commitment to Portuguese businessman Américo Amorim, taking into consideration his exit from stakeholding company Amorim Energia, via which Sonangol has an indirect stake in Galp.

Manuel Vicente, the chairman of Sonangol, and some of the company’s top managers, were in Portugal in February for negotiations, accompanied by Carlos Feijó, the current minister of State for Economic Affairs, and previously the legal advisor for Sonangol.

On 1 January 2011 the 2006 agreement to establish the shareholder structure of Galp Energia expired and the company’s main shareholders, ENI (33.34 percent) and Portugal’s Amorim Energia (33.34 percent), can now negotiate the sale of their stakes.

Brazil’s Petrobras had been negotiation to acquire Eni’s stake, but at the beginning of the month negotiations broke down.

ENI’s managing director, Paolo Scaroni told Italian news agency Ansa that negotiations with Petrobras had ended due to a lack of “agreement on essential elements of a possible transaction,” and that ENI was in no hurry to sell its stakes because, “Galp Energia has so far shown to be an excellent investment,” which since 2000 has generated, “revenues of around 1 billion euros,” for the Italian group.

Galp Energia explores gas and produces oil, but mainly refined products, and at the end of 2009 had oil reserves of 3.1 billion barrels. It is present in 13 countries, including Brazil and Angola.

According to Africa Monitor, the partnership via Amorim Energia was necessary in an initial stage, but the status of direct shareholder is now more compatible with the prestige of the company and its short term objectives, including a listing on the New York stock exchange.

Sonangol’s stake in the holding, as well as being secondary (45 percent) is held by an offshore company, “Esperanza.”

That indirect stake currently represents around 15 percent of Galp Energia’s capital.

However, the Angolan company is facing some resistance from the Portuguese businessman to do the deal, according to the same source.

In a recent interview with Portuguese weekly newspaper Expresso, Américo Amorim did not comment on the state of the relationship with the holding company’s Angolan shareholders, but made it clear that he would not easily give up the power he has in the Portuguese oil company.

“The fact that the period of unavailability of the shares has expired does not change my direction. My commitment to Galp Energia is for the long term. I am in Galp to stay. This company has a strategic role, of national interest, which I shall continue to defend. It is fundamental that everyone understands that,” Amorim said. (macauhub)

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