In an interview with the Lusa agency, Luís Correia, president of the Board of Directors of the Beverage Distribution Company of Angola (Sodiba), which produces in Luanda its own beer brand Luandina and the Portuguese Sagres, guaranteed that the company, for now, is to “work normally” and that from December to January, in the first month after the arrest ordered by the court, sales even grew 13 percent.
"In the short term the situation is normalized and controlled, what concerns me is the medium term", said Luís Correia, referring to his proposal, approved by the shareholders, of a business plan dependent on the injection of 1500 million kwanzas in the first quarter , essentially for the purchase of raw material, hampered by the seizure announced by the Angolan Attorney General's Office (PGR) on December 30 to the companies of Isabel dos Santos.
“These values are essential to allow us to invest in containers, crates and bottles, as the Angolan market, due to the lack of purchasing power, is an increasingly returnable market, as well as, for payments of overdue liabilities to suppliers and purchase of raw materials to continue the business”, explained the administrator, Portuguese.
In January alone, this business plan provided for an injection of 600 million kwanzas that was not completed, with Luís Correia recalling that with only three years the company still does not generate enough 'cash flow' to fulfill all responsibilities, which it should only happen in 2021. To this, he adds, there are “liabilities” with the financing banks, with interest payments that are due, he says, in the first quarter of this year.
“With the seizure of the assets of the last beneficiaries of Sodiba and the freezing of their bank accounts, the feasibility of this business plan is at stake, as well as the fulfillment of the responsibilities with the financing banks that are very concerned with the potential impairments and provisions that this situation can generate”, he warned.
With the foreclosure, disclosed in a press release by the PGR, Sodiba was one of the most affected, since it only has Isabel dos Santos and Sindika Dokolo as shareholders, pending the presentation in court of the main action.
“Absolutely no information from the court. In fact, Sodiba was never formally notified of the Order-Sentencing and only became aware of it in the press release of the Institutional Communication and Press Office of the PGR of Angola”, said Luís Correia. Questioned by Lusa, he explained that, however, only two meetings were held, for “some clarifications and at the request of the brewery administration, with the legal direction of Banco Nacional de Angola.
Apprehensive at the current lack of definition, he points to the consequences of the lack of injection of the expected capital until the end of next month: “If the arrest lasts over time and if no decision is taken to allow shareholder support to Sodiba, as planned and necessary, the viability of the company as it was thought and idealized is clearly conditioned”.
Sodiba currently employs 390 employees in the factory, logistics, distribution and central services, in addition to 130 employees in the commercial area.
Luís Correia guarantees that “at the moment no job is at risk”, as well as the production of Luandina and Sagres beers, taking into account that the company “is growing” and has a business plan to implement in 2020.
"I want to believe that this whole situation will be resolved, in one way or another, and that shareholders will be able to inject into Sodiba the values necessary for continuity, as planned and as is their expressed will", he says, recalling that the shareholders (Isabel dos Santos and Sindika Dokolo) have invested in that factory more than 160 million dollars since 2017.
Luís Correia, chosen in 2019 by Isabel dos Santos to lead Sodiba, has been in Angola since 2006, initially in the Refriango group, also in the beverage area, where he became executive director. He then held management roles at Grupo Castel, which produces the historic Angolan beer Cuca, for four years, leading the team responsible for sales of 40 billion liters of beer and more than 15 billion liters of soft drinks and non-alcoholic beverages.
According to company data, Sodiba paid more than 1971 million kwanzas in taxes in 2019. According to the business plan for 2020, this year it should contribute to the state coffers with about 3000 million kwanzas, also in taxes, due to the predicted “increase in sales, but also the increase in the tax burden on beers”.