Angola's Sonangol wins case over Galp stake
A Dutch court has ruled that a stake in Portuguese energy group Galp worth $700mn rightfully belongs to Angola's national oil company (NOC) Sonangol and not a holding company with alleged ties to the daughter of the African state's former president.
The dispute revolves around a 6% indirect stake in Galp that is now controlled by a holding company Exem Energy. Sonangol said on July 26 it was alleged that the company, while under diferent management had transferred a 40% interest in Exem to another holding firm, Esperaza Holding. That was in 2006, when Jose Eduardo dos Santos was the country's president. Esperaza has a 45% share in Amorim Energia, which in turn has a 33.3% stake in Galp, the Portuguese firm states on its website.
Exem was owned by Sindika Dokolo, a wealthy Congolese art collector who died last year. He was married to dos Santos' daughter Isabel dos Santos, who served as head of Sonangol from 2016 until 2017, when her father retired and she was fired by his successor Joao Lourenco.
Isabel dos Santos, estimated by Forbes in 2013 to be Africa's richest woman, has denied inheriting her husband's ownership of Exem, according to Reuters, although Sonangol states this is the case and has sought the return of the interest in Galp.
The Arbitration International Court of the Arbitration Institute of the Netherlands issued its final ruling on July 23 in favour of Sonangol in a dispute initiated by Exem in 2019, Sonangol said. Through the case, dos Santos had "intended to legimitise" the transfer of the shares in Esperaza to Exem, the NOC said.
The tribunal concluded that the sale was "contaminated with illegality," enabling Exem's owners to "reap extraordinary financial gains to the detriment of Sonangol and, consequently, the Angolan state," Sonangol said, estimating the value of the disputed shares at $700mn.