Ver Angola


Isabel dos Santos loses control of shareholding in Unitel and right to dividends

Businesswoman Isabel dos Santos, who owned 25 percent of telecommunications operator Unitel, through Vidatel, lost control of this company, according to a decision by the Supreme Court of the British Virgin Islands made public by PT Ventures.


According to a statement by PT Ventures, the court decided, in an order dated 19 November, following a lawsuit, to appoint judicial administrators for the management of specific assets of Vidatel, Limited, Isabel dos Santos company registered in the Islands Virgins, and all bank accounts held and / or controlled by Vidatel are managed by them.

The directors also start to control the 25 percent participation, including the rights inherent to that participation, namely Vidatel's voting and representation rights in Unitel's general shareholders' meetings and Vidatel's right to receive past and future dividends (including interest on them) from Unitel.

According to PT Ventures, a company acquired by the state oil company Sonangol, which now holds the majority shareholder of Unitel (50 percent), "the objective for which judicial co-administrators are appointed is to preserve and secure the relevant assets , pending confirmation of Vidatel's conviction in relation to the arbitral award handed down in favor of PT Ventures, on 20 February 2019, before the Paris Court of Appeal ".

The Paris Arbitral Tribunal ordered the "founding shareholders" of that telecommunications company to pay PT Ventures two indemnities totaling 654.2 million dollars.

The decision was released at the time by Unitel, according to which the International Chamber of Commerce (CCI) ordered the company to pay damages of 339.4 million dollars and 314.8 million dollars.

According to the statement released by PT Ventures, judicial co-administrators must take all measures they consider necessary or desirable, including "measures to protect Material Assets, and as a result of this decision, Vidatel is no longer under the control of control of Isabel dos Santos and, consequently, the 25 percent of Unitel's shares held by that company, Vidatel, also cease to be under the control of Isabel dos Santos".

Last month, Unitel filed a lawsuit in London against Unitel International Holdings (UIH), owned by businesswoman Isabel dos Santos, to recover a debt of more than 350 million euros.

The complaint dated 26 October, consulted by the Lusa agency, claims the repayment of seven loans granted between May 2012 and August 2013 from Unitel to UIH which, he stresses, "despite its name, has no business connection or affiliation with Unitel ".

Unitel claims that UIH owes 325,305,539 euros and 43,937,301 dollars, plus interest on late payments.

According to the document presented at the Commerce Division of the High Court of London [High Court], the loans were intended to finance the purchase of shares in the Portuguese telecommunications operator Zon, the acquisition of T + Telecomunicações in Cape Verde and the investment in Unitel in Sao Tome and Principe.

In August, Sonaecom announced that it had reached an agreement with businesswoman Isabel do Santos to dissolve the ZOPT, following the forfeiture of the participation of the daughter of former President José Eduardo dos Santos by the Portuguese justice, triggered by the "Luanda Leaks" case.
Unitel claims that the operation, as well as the diversion of dividend payments by NOS, drained UIH of capital or sources of income.

Isabel dos Santos previously rejected having received unjustified transfers from Unitel, guaranteeing, in turn, to be creditor of the operator who allegedly will not have returned a loan she obtained from Vidatel Ltd.

Unitel denied the existence of this debt, recognizing that Vidatel has dividends to be received, which were not transferred due to the seizure ordered by the Court of Luanda to Isabel dos Santos' holdings in several Angolan companies.

In December 2019, the Luanda Provincial Court ordered the preventive seizure of the assets of Isabel dos Santos and Sindika Dokolo, her husband, including nine companies in which the businesswoman holds stakes, including the brewer Sodiba, Condis, holder of the hypermarket chain Candando, television operator Zap Media, cement company Cimangola and telecommunications operator Unitel.

The preventive seizure of Vidatel's 25 percent stake in Unitel was recognized by the British Virgin Islands Court, adds PT Ventures.

Until January this year, Unitel was controlled by four shareholders, each with 25 percent: PT Ventures (owned by Brazilian Oi), oil company Sonangol, Vidatel (from Isabel dos Santos) and Geni (from general Leopoldino "Dino" Fragoso do Nascimento).
On January 26, Sonangol bought the position of PT Ventures, for 1 billion dollars, becoming the operator's largest shareholder.


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