Angola New President Fires Dos Santos Daughter as Sonangol Boss

LUANDA (Capital Markets in Africa)  – Angolan President Joao Lourenco dismissed Isabel dos Santos, the daughter of former President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, as chair of state-owned oil company Sonangol.

Dos Santos, Africa’s richest woman, was relieved of her post along with the entire board of Sonangol, according to a presidential statement. She will be replaced by Carlos Saturnino, who was fired from Sonangol by Dos Santos last year. Saturnino was recently appointed the secretary of state for oil and put in charge of a 30-day review of the sector.

Dos Santos’ dismissal “wasn’t unexpected given the changes that we saw taking place before today,” Gary van Staden, an analyst at NKC African Economics in Paarl, South Africa, said by phone. “I think this is the start of the end of the Dos Santos’ family influence in Angola.”

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 huge sectors of the economy. Before today’s dismissals, Lourenco fired the governor of the central bank, the head of diamond company Endiama and the boards of all three state-owned media companies.

The firing of Isabel dos Santos marks the first time Lourenco has directly targeted the family of former president 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.

Her younger brother, Jose Filomeno, heads Angola’s $5 billion sovereign wealth fund and has come under fire following a report by Swiss newspaper Le Matin Dimanche this month claiming the fund’s assets are being mismanaged.

Angola is struggling to recover from a drop in crude prices and the impact of a civil war that ended in 2002. After expanding for 14 consecutive years, the economy posted zero growth last year in a country where more than a third of the population of 27 million lives on less than $2 a day, according to the World Bank.

Apart from her former job at Sonangol, 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.

Source: Bloomberg Business News

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