Portugal to take then sell majority stake in Efacec firm of Angola's dos Santos

LISBON (Reuters) - Portugal will nationalise and then sell the majority stake in engineering firm Efacec Power Solutions that had been controlled by Angolan businesswoman and ex-first daughter Isabel dos Santos, the government said on Thursday.

FILE PHOTO: Isabel Dos Santos, daughter of Angola’s former President and Africa's richest woman, sits for a portrait during a Reuters interview in London, Britain, January 9, 2020. Picture taken on January 9. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo

Dos Santos, the daughter of former Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, is a suspect in a fraud investigation in her homeland and withdrew from Efacec’s shareholding structure in January, according to the company.

The nationalisation of 71.7% of the firm is a transitionary move, said a decree published on President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa’s website, and shares will immediately go on the market.

“The cabinet took this decision because Efacec is in a situation of impasse after the ‘Luanda Leaks’,” Economy Minister Pedro Siza Vieira told reporters after a cabinet meeting, referring to documents alleging corruption in Angola.

“Otherwise government intervention would not have been necessary.”

Dos Santos has repeatedly denied wrongdoing but had no new comment after Thursday’s announcement, said her spokeswoman Catarina Vasconcelos.

There was no information about any compensation for her shares.

Dos Santos bought her stake in the company in 2015 for around 200 million euros ($225 million) through offshore company Winterfell 2 Limited.

In December 2019, hundreds of thousands of files dubbed the “Luanda Leaks” were released by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists about alleged financial schemes used by dos Santos to build her business empire.

Portugal’s public prosecutor’s office said in February it had ordered the seizure of bank accounts belonging to dos Santos, who holds significant stakes in several other major firms in Portugal, Angola’s former colonial power.

Efacec employs 2,500 people in Portugal and is of great relevance to the economy, Siza Vieira said.

Angola has named dos Santos a formal suspect over allegations of mismanagement and misappropriation of funds during her time as chairwoman of state oil company Sonangol.

($1 = 0.8904 euros)

Reporting by Victoria Waldersee; Editing by Catarina Demony and Andrew Cawthorne