Sonangol's Fired Boss Said She Leaves $2 Billion in ReservesBy
Isabel dos Santos says outgoing board implemented transparency
Achievements included cutting cost of an oil barrel by half
Isabel dos Santos, Africa’s richest woman, said Sonangol will be left with a financial reserve of $2 billion after she leaves as chair of Angola’s state-owned oil company.
Her firing Wednesday marks the first time Angolan President Joao Lourenco has directly targeted the family of his predecessor, Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who ruled Africa’s second-biggest oil producer for 38 years and appointed his eldest daughter to the helm of Sonangol last year. She was relieved of her post along with the entire board.
Later Wednesday, the government ordered the state television station to terminate contracts for the management of a local and an international state-owned channel with two of Dos Santos’ younger children.
Since replacing the 75-year-old Dos Santos as president in September, Lourenco has vowed to end monopolies and fight corruption in a country where the former leader’s family and their allies control large sectors of the economy. He has also fired the governor of the central bank, the head of diamond company Endiama and the boards of all three state-owned media companies.
In her statement, Isabel dos Santos also highlighted how the board of directors that was dismissed reduced the company’s debt to $7 billion from $13 billion, and cut the production cost of a barrel of oil by half to $7.
“A culture of transparency and openness to Angolan society was also implemented at Sonangol, allowing a constant audit to the management team actions and the direction of this company,” she said in the statement.
Isabel dos Santos also controls Unitel, Angola’s largest mobile-phone company. She owns Candando, a supermarket chain, and has stakes in Angolan lenders Banco BIC and BFA and several companies in Portugal. Bloomberg estimates her net worth at $2.5 billion.
More than a third of Angola’s population of 27 million lives on less than $2 a day, according to the World Bank. The country is struggling to recover from a drop in crude prices and the impact of a civil war that ended in 2002.
— With assistance by Candido Mendes, Henrique Almeida, and Angelina Rascouet