Sonaecom severs link with Dos Santos and takes direct stake in NOS

Portuguese telecoms group Sonaecom has ceased to be an investor in ZOPT, previously a 50:50 joint venture with controversial Angolan businesswoman Isabel dos Santos, and has taken control of a 36.8% stake in Portuguese pay TV and broadband provider NOS as a result.

Sonaecom effectively exchanged its stake in ZOPT for 26.075% of the share capital of NOS previously held by the JV. The 50% stake in Zopt it previously held was passed to Dos Santos investment vehicles Unitel International and Kento.

Sonaecom indicated in a filing with regulator the CNVM that it would receive money from dividends attributed to ZOPT that had not been distributed due to the seizure of Dos Santos’s assets.

Portugal followed the example of Angola last year in freezing the assets of the businesswoman, the daughter of former Angola president José Eduardo dos Santos.

In April that year Lisbon’s central criminal court froze Dos Santos’s assets, including the half share she holds in ZOPT, which in turn controls 52.15% of NOS. The move was in connection with the ‘Luanda leaks’ case that saw the businesswoman accused of corruption on a massive scale.

The court subsequently lifted the injunction preventing her from exercising voting rights in NOS after Sonaecom challenged the freezing of assets on the grounds that it violated rules related to limited liability companies.

The withdrawal of Sonaecom from the JV is seen as opening the way for Angola to take control of Dos Santos’s stake in Angola’s national telco.

The unravelling of Dos Santos’ involvement in Portugal’s telecom market followed the publication of the so-called Luanda Leaks in 2020, which exposed widespread alleged corrupt practices.

Sonaecom said that it now intended to move to ensure “shareholder stability” to allow NOS to continue its development.

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