Banco BPI Shareholders Reject Plan to Spin Off African Assets

  • Less than two-thirds of shareholders voted in favor of move
  • Bank aimed to address European rules on exposure to Angola

Banco BPI SA’s plan to spin off its African assets to help the Portuguese lender comply with European rules limiting its exposure to Angola was rejected at a shareholder meeting on Friday.

The proposal failed to win the two-thirds majority needed for it to pass, with 63.08 percent of the votes backing the demerger, Oporto, northern Portugal-based BPI said in a regulatory filing. BPI’s African assets include a controlling stake in Angolan lender Banco de Fomento Angola.

“It’s the first time that the fundamental interest of the bank was at stake at a meeting and other interests arose that today stopped a solution that was good for the bank,” Fernando Ulrich, BPI’s Chief Executive Officer, said after the meeting. “The fundamental interest of the bank wasn’t taken into account today and other interests were.”

Angolan investor Isabel dos Santos, BPI’s second-biggest shareholder with a 19 percent stake, is against the plan, according to Mario Silva, chairman of dos Santos’s investment vehicle Santoro Finance. Dos Santos, the daughter of Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, has instead made an offer to buy an additional 10 percent stake in the Banco de Fomento Angola unit.

BPI owns 50.1 percent of Banco de Fomento Angola and Unitel, owned by dos Santos, holds the remaining stake. CaixaBank SA, Spain’s third-largest lender, is BPI’s biggest shareholder with a 44 percent stake.

“The spin off isn’t viable,” Silva said. “It’s a complex problem and a lot of dialogue is needed to reach a consensus of all positions.”

BPI shares rose as much as 9.52 percent to 1.024 euros on Friday and traded 8 percent higher at 2:14 p.m. in Lisbon. CaixaBank shares rose 6.7 percent to 2.669 euros.

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