Sonangol’s new chief executive Isabel Dos Santos has halted all talks related to the sale of the firm’s assets, a company statement said. According to the same statement, Dos Santos has stripped its internal legal department of most of its powers.
Dos Santos, the daughter of Angola’s President dos Santos, was named head of Sonangol last month. The billionaire business woman was given orders to improve the efficiency of the struggling state owned oil firm. Sonangol is integral to Angola’s economy.
The statement, which was posted on Sonangol’s website following a board meeting at the end of June, said: “All processes of evaluation, negotiation and sale of any assets” had been suspended with “immediate effect.”
No further details were given.
In a separate message, Sonangol said the board had removed the legal department’s mandate to handle anything other than disciplinary matters. Again, this statement provided no more clarity.
Last month, Dos Santos told Reuters she planned to separate Sonangol’s non-core assets (e.g. banking, real estate, airline interests) into separate holding companies to bring the firm’s focus back exclusively to oil.
Boston Consulting Group and PriceWaterhouseCoopers have been hired as external advisers to the shake-up, which has won approval from the foreign oil firms operating in Africa’s top crude producer.
Isabel dos Santos also said she intended to improve transparency at Sonangol, which is infamous for being one of the opaquest institutions in Africa.
In 2011, Sonangol was accused of misplacing $32 billion in oil revenues owed to the government.
The International Monetary Fund later said it had managed to find the missing cash, attributing the accounting discrepancy to “quasi-fiscal operations” conducted on behalf of the government.
Source: African Business Review