Oi sells 25% stake in Unitel for $1bn

Oi sells 25% stake in Unitel for $1bn

27 January 2020 | Natalie Bannerman

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Brazil’s Oi has sold its 25% stake in Unitel to Angola’s state-owned oil company Sonangol for $1 billion.

In a filing earlier this month, Oi confirmed that its subsidiary Africatel has sold and transferred all its shares in Unitel issued by Portuguese holding company PT Ventures to Sonangol. PT Ventures holds 25% share in Unitel and 40% in Multitel - Serviços de Telecomunicações Lda, both Angolan companies.

Of the $1 billion sale price $699.1 million was paid to Africatel at point of completion with $60.9 million paid to Africatel before the transfer of shares had been completed and the remaining $240 million “to be unconditionally paid to Africatel by Sonangol by July 31, 2020”. In addition, a monthly inflow to Africatel of $40 million starting on February 2020, will also be paid.

In the filing the company said that the inflow of funds and reduction in expenses thanks to the “disengagement from the ongoing litigation” will help the company with its cashflow and ongoing bankruptcy proceedings. In May of last year, the company completed its bankruptcy restructuring plan in attempt to try and bounce back from bankruptcy protection.

The news comes as Unitel has become implicated in Luanda Leaks scandal. Earlier this month, Isabel dos Santos, daughter of former president of Angola, Jose Eduardo, was at the centre of allegations that she abused her position and power to amass her $2 billion fortune. One such company said to be tied up in these accusations is Unitel, which dos Santos is its biggest shareholder.

In a document, it reportedly shows dos Santos as having arranged for Unitel, to lend €350 million to a company she started called Unitel International Holdings. Despite the name, Dos Santos owns Unitel International Holdings entirely and it has no connections to the aforementioned telco.

According to the BBC, the documents show that Dos Santos signed off on the loans as both lender and borrower, which is a clear conflict of interest.

Shortly after these claims, dos Santos was charged with fraud by Angola’s attorney general Helder Pitta Gros.

In a news conference, Pitta Gros told the press “Isabel dos Santos is accused of mismanagement and embezzlement of funds during her tenure at Sonangol and is thus charged in the first instance with the crimes of money laundering, influence peddling, harmful management, forgery of documents, among other economic crimes.”

She is now expected to return to Angola to face trial.