Angola seizes General Dino’s Unitel stake

18 Jan 2022

The Attorney General’s Office (PGR) of Angola has announced that the National Asset Recovery Service has seized a 25% ownership stake in mobile market leader Unitel which was held by a private company, Geni, fronted by Leopoldino do Nascimento (‘General Dino’) – a close associate of former president Jose Eduardo dos Santos. As reported by Lusa, the PGR stated that the seizure stemmed from a process of patrimonial and financial investigation related to a criminal process initiated by the National Directorate of Investigation and Criminal Action (DNIAP) under the PGR, adding that the State Assets & Participations Management Institute (Instituto de Gestao de Activos e Participacoes do Estado, IGAPE) has been appointed as the trustee of the 25% stake. The move means that 100% of Unitel’s share capital is now effectively under state control.

General Dino’s stake was targeted under Angola’s anti-corruption drive focusing on assets held by figures linked to the former regime, following December 2020’s seizure of a 25% Unitel stake formerly controlled by Angolan billionaire Isabel dos Santos (daughter of the former president). State oil company Sonangol owns 50% of shares in Unitel, with both the oil group and the cellco itself earmarked for eventual privatisation under a wider ongoing government programme administered by IGAPE.

The latest news comes after General Dino’s resignation as vice-president of Unitel’s board of directors in December 2021 in order to protect the cellco from US sanctions, following charges of embezzlement by US authorities.

TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database shows that Unitel claimed 90% of Angola’s 14.8 million mobile subscriptions at end-September 2021, a percentage which rose from 80% over three years as the market leader picked up subscriptions from shrinking rival Movicel, although it will face new competition this year from start-up Africell Angola.

Angola, Unitel (Angola)