Oil Report

Angola close to signing $1 bln Chinese loan -source

LUANDA, Feb 5 (Reuters) - Angola’s government is close to securing a $1 billion loan from China aimed at rebuilding the southwestern African nation as it recovers from a civil war, a source close to the Angolan finance minister said on Thursday.

The source said Angola’s Finance Minister, Severim de Morais, was currently in China to take care of the “final details of the loan.”

“We’re talking about a loan of around $1 billion but it could be more,” the source, who requested anonymity, told Reuters.

Angola has received at least $5 billion in oil-backed loans from Beijing since the end of the war in 2002. In return, tens of thousands of Chinese have come to Angola to work in everything from brick-building plants to road projects.

The latest loan could provide Angola with much-needed cash to rebuild infrastructure and homes for the poor as the price of its two main exports -- oil and diamonds -- have plunged in recent months.

The Angolan government recently said it would revise downwards a $42 billion spending plan for 2009 due to the ongoing global economic downturn.

Angola rivals Nigeria as sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest oil producer and is China’s biggest source of oil imports.

China’s loans to Angola include two credit lines each of $2 billion from China’s Export-Import Bank and an estimated $2.9 billion from China International Fund.

The former Portuguese colony has also in the past received credit lines from European banks eager to tap into its vast oil and mineral wealth. (Reporting by Henrique Almeida; Editing by Andy Bruce)