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BPI Will Develop Operation in Angola, CEO Ulrich Says

Jan. 31 (Bloomberg) -- Banco BPI SA Chief Executive Officer Fernando Ulrich said the Portuguese lender will keep a controlling stake in Banco de Fomento Angola and add branches in the African country.

“This is a success story for us that we are eager to develop,” Ulrich said in a conference call with analysts today. “I don’t intend to sell a single asset” in Angola.

Portugal’s fifth-biggest bank retained control of the unit after selling a 49.9 percent holding to wireless-phone company Unitel SA for $475 million in 2008. Angola, Africa’s second-biggest oil producer, is luring foreign banks as its economy booms. Gross domestic product is forecast to have grown more than 8 percent in 2012, the International Monetary Fund said in a report yesterday.

Ulrich said he was “very happy” with the other shareholders in Banco de Fomento and planned to “gradually” expand its 167 branches in Angola.

BPI yesterday posted net income of 249.1 million euros ($394 million) for 2012 compared with a loss of 285 million in the previous year. Banco de Fomento accounted for 79.7 million euros of BPI’s profit last year, BPI said in a regulatory filing.

Standard Bank Group Ltd., Africa’s largest lender, said last year that it won’t rule out acquisitions in Angola as it seeks to become one of the top five banks in the country.

Only 22 percent of Angolans have access to banks and more than two-thirds of the market is controlled by the five biggest lenders, according to audit firm KPMG.

To contact the reporter on this story: Henrique Almeida in Lisbon at halmeida5@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jerrold Colten at jcolten@bloomberg.net

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