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Angola takes over rest of Unitel from Isabel dos Santos and ally

Isobel dos Santos.jpg

The government of Angola has taken over the 50% of Unitel that it did not already own.

Angola seized the shares from Isabel dos Santos (pictured, via Instagram), daughter of a deposed president, and Leopoldino Fragoso do Nascimento, a former general in José Eduardo dos Santos’s government.

The current government, which took over after President dos Santos was replaced, already owned 50% of Unitel through the public company Sonangol.

According to the Ecofin news agency, the current president, João Lourenço, nationalised Unitel by appropriating the shares of Isabel dos Santos and of Nascimento, who each held 25% of the company’s capital via intermediary companies.

Both Isabel dos Santos – once described by Forbes magazine as the richest woman in Africa – and Nascimento have had their assets blocked by the US.

In January 2020, Angola charged Dos Santos with embezzlement and money laundering and froze her assets. She denied the charges.

Forbes removed her from the billionaire ranks in January 2021 following asset freezes.

An Angolan government announcement said the state had to nationalise Unitel “to safeguard the legal situation of the company and to guarantee the interests of the state”, after having exhausted all the possibilities of agreements with the two shareholders.

The shares will be transferred to the Institute for the Management of State Assets and Participations (IGAPE) which will take care of their management, said Ecofin.

Isabel dos Santos continues to face legal action in an anti-corruption campaign launched in 2017 by Lourenço. Her father died in July 2022.

Lourenço said the nationalisation of Angola’s main telecom operator aims to guarantee the taking of “decisions necessary for the continuity of the business through a more efficient, transparent management model aligned with the strategic interest represented by the company”.