Arbitration court orders Unitel shareholders to pay Oi USD654m

4 Mar 2019

An arbitration tribunal of the Paris International Chamber of Commerce has settled a dispute between shareholders of Angola’s leading mobile operator Unitel by ordering its local owners to pay fellow stakeholder Oi of Brazil USD654.2 million plus costs, Jeune Afrique reports. The figure includes USD339.4 million representing impairment losses caused by violations of Unitel’s shareholders’ agreement and USD314.8 million in compensation for non-payment of dividends due since 2012, whilst Oi’s costs of more than USD13 million must also be reimbursed.

Oi, which holds a 25% Unitel stake registered to PT Ventures (once owned by Portugal Telecom), had attempted to claim up to USD2.8 billion in the arbitration case dating back to 2015, including around USD700 million in overdue dividends, but despite being awarded less than a quarter of its total target figure, the Brazilian telco welcomed the ‘decision that reaffirms the rights of PT Ventures as a 25% shareholder in Unitel’s capital’.

Unitel’s three Angolan shareholding companies also hold 25% apiece, namely: Vidatel (run by billionaire Angolan businesswoman Isabel Dos Santos – chair of Unitel’s board of directors), Geni (headed by General Leopoldino do Nascimento, a.k.a. ‘General Dino’) and Mercury Telecom (MSTelcom, a subsidiary of national oil company Sonangol). Jeune Afrique notes that the arbitration award does not resolve an ongoing dispute between Oi and its fellow investors over the rights to nominate Unitel board members.

Angola, Oi, Unitel (Angola)