Spanish, Angolan rivals reach deal over Portuguese bank

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

LISBON, Portugal (AP) — The Lisbon stock exchange suspended trading in shares in Banco Portugues do Investimento as the market awaited details Monday of a takeover agreement between the bank's Spanish and Angolan shareholders.

Spain's Caixabank, S.A., which owns 44 percent of the Portuguese bank, has for more than a year been negotiating to buy the 18.6 percent stake held by Angolan businesswoman Isabel dos Santos after European banking authorities ordered Portugal's second-largest listed bank to lower its exposure to Angola.

Banco BPI, as the bank is known, said in a statement late Sunday its two major shareholders had clinched a deal, with details being made public in coming days.

Caixabank is widely expected to launch a bid for other BPI shares it doesn't own in the latest move toward consolidation in the Iberian banking sector, which is being encouraged by European supervisors keen to strengthen the industry. The International Monetary Fund said this month the Portuguese banking sector is "hobbled by low profitability and poor asset quality."

Dos Santos is a daughter of longtime Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos and is one of Africa's most successful businesswomen. Analysts predict she will get a controlling stake in Banco de Fomento Angola, where BPI has a 50.1 percent stake.

BPI's announcement came on the last day of a deadline from the European Central Bank to reduce its Angolan bank assets. The ECB regards Angolan banking supervision as poor.