Geocapital to start process of integrating banks in Portuguese-speaking countries

29 November 2010

Macau, China, 29 Nov – Geocapital, the stakeholding company linked to Macau gaming magnate Stanley Ho, is due to start the process of integrating the banks it has been acquiring in Portuguese-speaking African countries.

The integration of the banks into a network aims to make financial relations between the countries easier and improve the internationalisation prospects of their respective countries, according to the Africa Monitor newsletter.

The newsletter said that the first banks to become part of the network would be Banco da África Ocidental, of Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde’s Caixa Económica.

Geocapital also has stakes in Angola’s Banco Privado do Atlântico and Mozambique’s Moza Banco.

The process of interlinking the banks extends to a plan for reciprocal representation between the banks Africa Monitor said.

Geocapital, which is about to launch a banking business in East Timor, has a presence in the financial markets of almost all the Portuguese-speaking African countries, with the exception of Sao Tome and Principe, a country with which China has no diplomatic relations, but where some Chinese companies operate.

Timor’s new bank, Banco Timorense de Investimento, which Geocapital has already requested to open, is due to receive authorisation, according to a recent report from Africa Monitor.

The new bank will prioritise financing for infrastructure projects.

Speaking recently, Diogo Lacerda Machado, a member of Geocapital’s board of directors, estimated that an investment of between 4 and 6 million euros would be needed to set up the Timorese bank.

In the initial stage of the new Timorese bank, Geocapital will almost entirely control it, but in the future local shareholders are likely to come on board.

With starting capital of around 10 million euros, Geocapital’s main shareholders are Stanley Ho and Portuguese businessman Jorge Ferro Ribeiro.

Geocapital is a project that began with the political/strategic concept of Macau as a “privileged platform” in relation between China and the Portuguese-speaking countries, according to chief executive Jorge Ferro Ribeiro.

In an initial phase, it is investing in the banking sector in all Portuguese-speaking countries in order to have “institutional positioning in those countries,” and also “privileged knowledge of the business and economic reality of the countries,” he said.

At the end of 2008, a partnership was announced between Geocapital and Angolan state oil company Sonangol – Geopactum, as part of which Ho and Ferro Ribeiro took a stake in Banco Privado Atlântico (BPA).

Thus partnership has implications in the management of Portugal’s biggest private bank, Millennium bcp, as Sonangol has a 10 percent stake in the bank and Ho has around 3 percent, making it the main power within the board of directors.

At the end of last year, Geocapital became the largest private shareholder in Cape Verdean bank Caixa Económica de Cabo Verde (CECV), on acquiring 27.41 percent of the bank from Portuguese mutual group Caixa Económica Montepio Geral.

After the financial sector and renewable energy, infrastructure is likely to be the next focus of investment, according to the group. (macauhub)

MACAUHUB FRENCH