"The issue of nationalization is not a topic (...) the shareholders are the same", said Miguel Geraldes in statements to Lusa, stressing that the shares of the two shareholders in dispute with the authorities - that is, Isabel dos Santos and general Leopoldino Fragoso do Nascimento “Dino” - were already being managed by IGAPE (Institute for the Management of State Assets and Participation).
"Therefore, there is no change in its context (...) this is a matter for the authorities and that does not impact the operation, which continues exactly as it was", he argued.
Miguel Geraldes, who was speaking on the sidelines of the "V Conference on Digital Transformation: Telecommunications, Digitization and Financial Inclusion", declined to speak about the public tender to find new shareholders for the company, insisting that the company's operational management "takes place in normality".
"This is a question (public tender) at the shareholder level, I can only refer to the management issue and what I said is that the change in nationalization did not have any impact on our day-to-day activities, on operational management, everything the rest is not up to us to say", he stressed.
The Minister of Natural Resources, Oil and Gas, Diamantino Azevedo, announced in the middle of this month that the executive will open a public tender to find new shareholders for Unitel, after the quotas of Isabel dos Santos (Vidatel) and general “Dino” (Geni), each with 25 percent of the telecommunications company, to be nationalized by the state.
In practice, the State retains the total share capital of Unitel, as each stake corresponded to 25 percent and the remaining 50 percent were already held by the state-owned oil company Sonangol.
The announcement was made in October through the official page of the Angolan Presidency on Facebook, which justifies the presidential decisions with the "exceptional public interest" of Unitel for the State, taking into account its strategic position in the sector, on the one hand, and the actions lawsuits against some of Vidatel's shareholders (Isabel dos Santos) and the strong restrictive measures in the country and abroad against the beneficial owner of Geni (general “Dino”).
The director general of Unitel also declined to comment on the complaints of Isabel dos Santos, who considered the process of nationalization of the operator as "a theft".
In an interview with DW, the former President's daughter said she did not understand the reasons invoked by the State to carry out the operation.
“The Angolan State ordered, about a year and a half, two years ago, to pay one billion dollars for 25 percent of Unitel to PTV [currently owned by Sonangol] but the other percentages were nationalized. And the nationalization decree says that the company is good, that it has good technology, that it employs a lot of people, that is, that it is doing well. So what is the reason for the nationalization ”, she questioned, defending that it is “to sell to friends ”.
Asked whether Unitel needed Isabel dos Santos, Miguel Geraldes expressed respect for the founder of the Angolan operator and recalled that when he arrived at the company he had no contact with Isabel dos Santos, as she was no longer in office at the time.
"Once again I have no comments on this matter, I cannot compare the before and after, I can only compare since when I was there and since when I was there we have made a development in terms of investment for infrastructure that is quite high", he argued.
He also announced that Unitel has invested US$700 million over the last four years, "the biggest investment in infrastructure in the last ten years".
"Obviously, Unitel has a very high investment in infrastructure, namely in the national optical fiber, we are talking about values of several billion dollars", he explained.
Unitel's director general was one of the speakers at the round table on "Development and Access to Communications as a Factor for Digitization", as part of the conference held this Wednesday by the magazine Economia & Mercado.