African billionaire’s Malta firm acquires €200 million stake in Portuguese utility

Isabel dos Santos, 42, made the acquisition of the Portuguese company through Winterfell Industries, a company based in Malta

Isabel dos Santos (centre) with husband Sindika Dokolu (right) and De Grisogono founder Fouaz Gruosi
Isabel dos Santos (centre) with husband Sindika Dokolu (right) and De Grisogono founder Fouaz Gruosi

Africa’s richest woman, Isabel dos Santos, has acquired a 65% stake in Portugal’s Efacec Power Solutions in a deal worth over €194 million.

Dos Santos, 42, made the acquisition of the Portuguese company through Winterfell Industries, a company based in Malta – where many of her other business interests are housed, 5,000km away from her home country, Angola.

Valued at $3 billion by Forbes, African ‘princess’ dos Santos is a major force in industries such as diamonds, banking and telecommunications, usually with stakes in her own country’s state corporations.

Like her father José Eduardo dos Santos, who has ruled Angola for 35 years, she often stands accused of enriching the dos Santos dynasty at the expense of the nation.

According to Portuguese business newspaper Económico, it was José Eduardo dos Santos who only last August signed a state order approving that Angolan state energy company ENDE acquires 40% of Winterfell Industries.

The other 60% owner of Winterfell is Isabel dos Santos’s own company, Niara Holding.

That makes the state of Angola a 26% owner of Efacec, through the acquisition of the Angolan dictator’s daughter’s Malta firm. Efacec Power Solutions manufactures power transformers, mobile substations, and distribution transformers. It also provides services in the engineering sector and has an annual turnover of more than $500 million.

The other directors of Winterfell are Noel Buttigieg Scicluna, the former Nationalist MP who is also a director on several other Santos firms, such as Victoria Holding.

Victoria Holding is owned jointly by Angola’s state diamond marketing company Sodiam, and husband Sindika Dokolu. In 2012 it acquired Swiss jeweller De Grisogono.

One of De Grisogono’s administrators, Vasco Pires Rites, is a director of Espacos Media Group Limited, which also forms part of the dos Santos media empire and has related companies based in Malta.

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