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Angolan President’s Succession Talk Won’t Alter Investment Drive

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Nov. 14 (Bloomberg) -- Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos’s reiteration of comments that he’s beginning to consider stepping down won’t affect the country’s drive for investment, analysts including Mike Davies of Kigoda Consulting said.

The Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola, which has ruled the country since independence from Portugal in 1975, is considering his succession plans, the president said in an interview with a Brazilian television station, state-run Jornal de Angola reported yesterday. Dos Santos, 71, gave no date or party timetable for selecting its next leader, or who that might be.

“It’s likely that dos Santos will continue to play an important role in politics in the short term,” Davies, director of Cape Town-based Kigoda, said by e-mail. “There’s unlikely to be a radical shift in the investment environment under his successor.”

The $114 billion economy of Angola, Africa’s largest crude oil producer after Nigeria, will probably expand by 5.1 percent this year, Dos Santos said in a speech last month. Companies such as Chevron Corp., Exxon Mobil Corp., and Total SA helped pump 1.71 million barrels a day of crude in October, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The country is also seeking investment in industries ranging from sugar to egg production.

Carolina Fortes, a spokeswoman for the MPLA in Luanda, didn’t answer repeated calls to her mobile phone seeking comment. Mario Jorge, a spokesman for the president, referred queries to Fortes.

The president justified his 34 years in power in the interview by saying the 27-year civil war that lasted until 2002 prevented democracy and the consolidation of state institutions. “From now on things will change,” he said.

The remarks, which expand on an answer given to Portugal’s SIC television in June, come after police cracked down on protests by young urban dwellers against the MPLA’s re-election in August 2012. The constitution could see dos Santos remain in power until 2022 if the party wins the next scheduled national vote in 2017.

“Dos Santos’s close associates have a controlling stake in much of the Angolan economy, and investors will want to see that the transition is managed in such a way that control of the economy remains in the same hands,” Justin Pearce, a teaching fellow at the University of Cambridge in England, said by e-mail. “This will not answer the growing clamor within Angolan society for a more profound process of democratization and an end to the current endemic cronyism.”

Angola ranks 157th out of 176 countries on Transparency International’s 2012 Corruption Perceptions Index.

Foreign investment this year in Angolan industries excluding oil was $1.9 billion by the end of September, compared with $2.3 billion for all of last year, Maria Luisa Abrantes, chairwoman of the National Private Investment Agency, said in an interview on Oct. 1. An estimated $20 billion a year is invested in petroleum exploration and production in Angola, according to London-based GlobalData Ltd. and Oilfield Support Angola Lda of Luanda.

To contact the reporter on this story: Colin McClelland in Luanda at cmcclelland1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at asguazzin@bloomberg.net

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