Africa’s Richest Woman Quits Unitel Board in Bid to Ease Tension

Isabel dos Santos, Africa’s richest woman, stepped down from the board of Angolan telecommunications operator Unitel SA in a bid to ease tensions between management and shareholders over her influence at the company.

“After 20 years dedicated to the creation, development and success of Unitel, I chose to leave the position of member of the company’s board of directors,” Dos Santos said Tuesday in an emailed statement. “It seems counterproductive and irresponsible to allow a climate of permanent conflict” among board members, she said.

The daughter of former Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, Isabel owns 25% of Unitel, Angola’s biggest mobile-phone company. That holding, along with stakes in other Angola businesses, was frozen last year after prosecutors accused her of causing losses to the Angolan state during her father’s rule that ended in 2017. Dos Santos, 47, left Angola in 2018 and has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

Unitel’s other shareholders include state oil company Sonangol, with a 50% stake, and army General Leopoldino do Nascimento with 25%. Former Sonangol Chairman Carlos Saturnino in 2019 accused Dos Santos of having too much power at Unitel and called for changes to the company’s board.

Dos Santos, who ran Unitel for several years after founding the company in 1999, didn’t say what she plans to do with her stake.

“I will continue to support Unitel with all my energy, in order to contribute to the success of our vision,” she said.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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