Angola's Sonangol Prepares Sale of Oil-Block, Bank Stakes

(Bloomberg) -- Angola’s Sonangol plans to sell stakes in oil blocks and several local banks as the state-owned company seeks to recover from the crude-market slump that began in 2014.

Chairman Carlos Saturnino is trying to reduce debt and bolster revenue at a company that’s a key economic driver for the southern African nation: oil accounts for more than 90 percent of Angola’s exports. He also criticized his predecessor Isabel dos Santos, the daughter of the country’s former president, whom he succeeded last year.

Sonangol will open a tender for possible bidders to study its stakes in Blocks 21/09 and 20/11 off the coast of Angola, Saturnino told reporters in the capital, Luanda, on Wednesday.

“I’d like to extend a general invitation to the oil industry to analyze the data on these oil concessions,” Saturnino said. “The goal is to have a business group that is less heavy, smaller and more agile.”

Sonangol’s debt declined to $4.8 billion in 2017 from $9.8 billion a year earlier after the government provided the company with $10 billion in financing, the chairman said.

Angolan Banks

Sonangol is also reviewing its investments in airline SonAir and five Angolan banks including the country’s second-largest lender, Banco Angolano de Investimentos, in which it holds an 8.5 percent stake.

“It’s possible that we can sell our stakes in these banks,” Saturnino said. “The total invested in these banks is very big and we’re only speaking about Angola. We have other investments abroad.”

Sonangol holds an indirect stake of 33.34 percent in Portuguese oil company Galp Energia SGPS SA, and 15.24 percent of Lisbon-based lender Banco Comercial Portugues SA. Both investments are “strategic" and Saturnino described the Galp holding as a “good” one. It was “premature” to talk about Sonangol’s plans for the bank stake, he added.

Saturnino said his predecessor had authorized the transfer of $38 million from Sonangol to a company in Dubai on Nov. 19, four days after being dismissed as chairwoman of the state oil company. He also said Dos Santos had increased business ties between Sonangol and some of the banks in which she holds stakes.

“How can people that had been dismissed by the government still carry out transfers,” said Saturnino, who was fired from Sonangol by Dos Santos in 2016. “It absolutely cannot be an act of good faith.”

A spokesman for Isabel dos Santos in Lisbon wasn’t immediately available for comment. Dos Santos is the billionaire daughter of former President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who stepped down in September after almost four decades in power.

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