Angolan shareholders claim right to buy out Portugal Telecom from Unitel

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

Angolan businesswoman Isabel dos Santos and the other local shareholders of Angola's largest cellco Unitel have told fellow shareholder Portugal Telecom (PT) that they intend to 'exercise their rights' to buy the Portuguese group's 25% stake, reports Macauhub citing Portuguese newspaper Publico.

In a letter to PT, the Angolan shareholders claim that there has been a 'violation of the shareholders' agreement by PT Internacional [a holding company of PT via which it owns Unitel shares] in the process of signing a merger agreement with Brazilian company Oi' which they argue means that they can exercise rights to buy PT's stake in Unitel. The letter clarifies its argument by noting that the merger between PT and Oi, which involves PT Internacional, 'indirectly implies a change in Unitel's shareholder structure as the final controlling shareholder of PT Internacional will no longer [be] PT SGPS [the registered name of the Portuguese parent company] and will become Oi and CorpCo.' TeleGeography's GlobalComms Database notes that 25% of Unitel is owned by MSTelcom (Mercury Telecom), a subsidiary of Angolan state-owned oil company Sonangol, whilst two other local firms ' Vidatel and the Geni Holding group ' each hold 25% stakes. Geni was set up by partners including Isabel dos Santos, who is the daughter of Angolan president Jose Eduardo dos Santos. Holding company Africatel owns the other 25% of Unitel, and is itself 75% owned by PT (via PT Internacional), giving the Portuguese parent group an effective 18.75% stake in the cellco. Portuguese bank BPI recently valued PT's stake in Unitel at EUR930 million (USD1.3 billion), taking into account the dividends owed by the Angolan firm.