Paris Arbitration Court condemns Angolan Unitel to pay 568,8 MEuro to PT Ventures

Isabel dos Santos

Isabel dos Santos

  |  Pedro Granadeiro/Global Imagens

The Arbitral Court of Paris condemned the "founding shareholders" of the Angolan operator Unitel, presided by Isabel dos Santos, to pay € 568,8 million euros to PT Ventures.

Through a statement, Unitel confirmed the amount of damages - 339,4 million dollars (295,1 million euros) and 314,8 million dollars (273,7 million euros), with a total value of 654,2 million dollars (568,8 million euros) - and refers that the decision court was taken on the 20th of this month under the aegis of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC)

The first compensation relates to the conviction of the founding shareholders of the Angolan operator, who must pay that amount as a joint effort, as compensation for all the shares, as required by PT Ventures, a company owned by the Brazilian operator Oi, following the merger with the Portuguese PT and which holds 25% of the share capital of Unitel.

Currently, Unitel's executive board is composed of members appointed by all shareholders, PT Ventures, Mercury (through MS Telecom, Sonangol's subsidiary), Vidatel and Geni, all with a stake of 25%.

Angolan businesswoman Isabel dos Santos, through the participation in Vidatel, is the chairman of the board of directors of the operator, while general Leopoldino Fragoso do Nascimento "Dino", by the Geni group, close to former head of state José Eduardo dos Santos, is chairman of the board of the company's general meeting.

In the statement, Unitel points out that, however, PT Ventures' initial requirement was that its founding shareholders be obliged to buy their shares from the Angolan operator for an amount of no less than US $ 2,176 million (1,896 million euros).

In the second compensation, the court set the amount for the alleged damages corresponding to the unpaid dividends in 314,8 million (273,7 million euros), less than half of 736,7 million (641,5 million euros) claimed by PT Ventures.

Unitel also states in the notice that the Court rejected a third compensation requested by PT Ventures at a minimum amount of 241,6 million (210,1 million euros) corresponding to alleged losses incurred in respect of allegedly acting in self-interest or transactions that were allegedly harmful, held by the Angolan operator before 2014 (merger of Oi with Portugal Telecom, which indirectly held the stake in Unitel).

Noting that the compensation to be paid corresponds to "only 20%" of the sum claimed by PT Ventures, Unitel indicates that it will not contest the decision.

On Monday, Unitel accused Oi of calling into question the procedure for appointing the company's governing bodies by seeking to impose three of the five members of the board of directors, stating in a "clarification note" that since 2014, Oi is "against the practice and agreement of the shareholders in effect since 2006", intending to "appoint three of the five members of the board of directors".

An issue that, in Oi's opinion, was also clarified in its favor in the sentence known today by the Arbitral Tribunal of Paris. According to information sent today by Pharol (formerly PT SGPS, one of Oi's main shareholders) to the Portuguese Securities Market Commission (CMVM), the Arbitral Tribunal reaffirmed the "rights of PT Ventures as a shareholder holding 25% of Unitel," including "the appointment of a majority of the members of Unitel's Board of Directors and the right to receive past and future dividends from Unitel."

For March 19 is scheduled a general meeting of shareholders of Unitel, to elect the new social bodies.