Angolan national oil company Sonangol is interested in buying a 25% stake held by Brazilian telecommunications group Oi in Unitel, a mobile operator in Angola, the chairman of the Angolan state company told Portuguese weekly Expresso.
The Oi Group, which owns PT Ventures, a shareholder of Unitel, is undergoing a legally imposed business recovery process, which has sought to sell its shareholding in the Angolan company, in order to raise significant funds.
The president of Sonangol, Gaspar Martins, told the weekly that the company is analysing the possibility of acquiring the stake, but added that the move depends on the final decision of the Paris Arbitration Court.
Unitel announced in February 2019 that the Paris Arbitration Court has ordered the “founding shareholders” of Unitel to pay PT Ventures two compensation payments totalling US$654.2 million.
Unitel, with a share of 80% in the Angolan telecommunications market, has four shareholders with equal stakes (25%): Geni, owned by general Leopoldino do Nascimento (Dino), Vidatel, owned by Isabel dos Santos, PT Ventures (Oi) and MSTelecom/Sonangol.
Although Sonangol has recently announced a move away from non-oil operations, including Unitel, the situation on the international oil market is unlikely to make it possible for the main driver of the Angolan economy to immediately drop consistent sources of revenue such as the telecommunications company.
Sonangol would be entitled, if it acquires Unitel, to approximately US$1 billion in dividends.
Expresso reported that Isabel dos Santos has made an offer to the Oi group, which was considered to be an unattractive offer, but will not be an option in this operation, because she is the target of several actions brought by Oi/PTVentures and, last week, she was faced with a decision by an Angolan court to seize her business holdings.