Brazil’s Odebrecht to exit Angola diamond mine, sources say

Odebrecht SA, the Brazilian conglomerate selling assets in the wake of a corruption scandal, has agreed to sell a 16.4 percent stake in the world’s No. 4 diamond mine to a partner, a person with direct knowledge of the transaction said on Tuesday.

According to the person, Odebrecht exited Sociedade Mineira de Catoca Lda to meet terms of a 12 billion-real (2.9 billion pounds) asset sale goal. State-run Empresa Nacional de Prospecção, Exploração, Lapidação & Comercialização de Diamantes de Angola EP, commonly known as Endiama, bought out the stake with the help of other partners in Catoca, the person added.

The deal was confirmed by another person, who said it had been approved by Endiama’s board earlier in the day to assert Angolan government control over domestic mining assets. Bankers have estimated the value of Odebrecht’s Catoca stake at $300 million, based on a valuation of $1.8 billion for the mine.

A spokesman for São Paulo-based Odebrecht declined to comment. Efforts to contact Catoca and Endiama after working hours in Luanda were unsuccessful.

Odebrecht is the largest of Brazilian engineering firms accused of colluding to overcharge Petróleo Brasileiro SA and other state firms for contracts, then using part of that to channel donations and bribes into Brazil’s former ruling Workers Party as well as domestic and international allies.

The group, which once was Brazil’s largest private-sector employer, agreed to dispose of several assets to pay a $3.5 billion leniency accord with Brazilian, U.S. and Swiss authorities, and meet terms of a debt restructuring accord with banks.

Panama

The people spoke under condition of anonymity, because terms of the transaction remain private.

Asset sales have gained momentum as Odebrecht clinches accords with a dozen countries where it paid bribes to win contracts between 2002 and 2016. Planned divestitures like that of a 28 percent stake in Brazil’s Santo Antônio hydropower dam could be concluded within months if settlements are finalised, the first person said.

Earlier in the day, Odebrecht [ODBES.UL] agreed to pay $220 million in fines to Panama’s government. The fine included $100 million for using the banking system for illicit activities, Panama’s Attorney General Kenia Porcell said.

Odebrecht had been a partner in Catoca, which accounts for almost 80 percent of Angola’s diamond production, for over three decades, the second person said. Currently, Catoca has a pool of Russian and Chinese investors working alongside the state-controlled firm known as Endiama.

Source: Reuters