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Sonaecom breaks tie with Dos Santos and takes direct stake in NOS

Portuguese telecommunications group Sonaecom ceased to be an investor in ZOPT, previously a 50/50 joint venture with controversial Angolan businesswoman Isabel dos Santos, and thus took control of a 36, 8% in Portuguese pay-TV and broadband provider NOS.

Sonaecom effectively exchanged its stake in ZOPT for 26.075% of the share capital of NOS previously held by the JV. The 50% stake in Zopt it previously held was transferred to Dos Santos investment vehicles Unitel International and Kento.

Sonaecom said in a filing with regulator CNVM that it would receive money from dividends awarded to ZOPT that had not been distributed due to the seizure of Dos Santos assets.

Portugal followed Angola’s lead last year by freezing the assets of the businesswoman, the daughter of former Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santos.

In April of the same year, the Central Criminal Court in Lisbon froze the assets of Dos Santos, including half of the shares she holds in ZOPT, which in turn controls 52.15% of NOS. The move was linked to the ‘leaks from Luanda’ case which saw the businesswoman accused of large-scale corruption.

The court then lifted the injunction preventing it from exercising voting rights in NOS after Sonaecom challenged the asset freeze on the grounds that it violated rules on limited liability companies.

Sonaecom’s withdrawal from the JV is seen as paving the way for Angola to take control of Dos Santos’ stake in the Angolan national telecom operator.

The unraveling of Dos Santos’ involvement in the Portuguese telecommunications market followed the publication of the so-called Luanda Leaks in 2020, which exposed alleged widespread corrupt practices.

Sonaecom has indicated that it now intends to act to ensure “shareholder stability” in order to allow NOS to continue its development.