Isabel dos Santos leaves Unitel board

12 Aug 2020

Angolan billionaire businesswoman Isabel dos Santos has decided to leave her position on the board of directors of the country’s leading mobile operator Unitel she has held for 20 years, citing a ‘climate of permanent conflict’ in a statement reported by news agency Lusa.

Dos Santos – daughter of former Angolan president Jose Eduardo dos Santos – owns 25% of Unitel via her Vidatel company, but the shares have been frozen since December 2019 by an order of the Provincial Court of Luanda which also targeted her stakes in eight other local companies including Zap Media (incorporating broadband operator Zap Fibra) and BFA bank. Dos Santos has vowed to fight the ‘politically motivated’ seizures and also denies charges levied in January 2020 by Angola’s attorney general accusing her of fraudulent conduct in relation to her previous position as head of state-owned oil firm Sonangol before she was removed from the role by President Joao Lourenco. TeleGeography notes that Sonangol currently owns 50% of Unitel (including 25% via subsidiary MSTelcom), with the remaining 25% of the cellco held by Geni, a company fronted by General Leopoldino do Nascimento (‘General Dino’) – a dos Santos associate and former government head of intelligence.

Isabel dos Santos owns a separate telecoms holding company, Unitel International Holdings, registered in the Netherlands, which controls mobile operators in Cape Verde and Sao Tome & Principe as well as holding part of her stake in Portuguese operator Nos.

Angola, Unitel (Angola)