Head of Chevron' Angola unit backs state oil firm after dos Santos appointment

LUANDA (Reuters) - The managing director of Chevron’s Angola subsidiary has said he supports the direction state oil firm is taking after President Jose Eduardo dos Santos appointed his daughter to head the company.

A presidential decree carried on Angolan state media last week said Isabel dos Santos, ranked as Africa’s richest woman by Forbes, would become chief executive after the firing of Sonangol’s board.

“The government has acted. It is clear the direction they want to go. I am always optimistic. I certainly support the direction Sonangol is taking,” John Baltz said at a conference of the U.S. Angola Chamber of Commerce when asked for comment.

Angola, currently Africa’s top oil producer because of supply outages caused by militant attacks in Nigeria’s Niger Delta, said in April it would restructure Sonangol to increase efficiency and profitability.

Analysts were divided about the merit of Isabel dos Santos’ appointment last Friday, with some noting that, while she was not necessarily an energy expert, she had a track record of getting deals done.

Others, however, said the appointment could make it more difficult for international banks to do business with Sonangol, given the perception of nepotism it creates.

Reporting by Herculano Coroado; Writing by Stella Mapenzauswa; Editing by Toby Chopra