Angola is planning an initial public offering in 2024 for Unitel, the country’s biggest telecommunications company, as demand for riskier emerging-market assets is predicted to grow this year on expectations of US interest-rate cuts.
Secretary of state for finance & treasury Ottoniel dos Santos said Angola is also looking to sell a stake in Banco de Fomento Angola, the nation’s second biggest lender, through the stock market this year.
“Our focus is on finding a mechanism to accelerate the privatisation process of the state’s indirect holdings in these entities through the stock market,” Dos Santos said in comments broadcast by state-owned Radio Nacional de Angola on 7 February.
The companies are among 26 state-owned firms and assets earmarked by the government for disposal this year as Angola tries to attract foreign investment, increase transparency and diversify the economy away from oil.
Angola would join other developing economies that are taking advantage of increased appetite for riskier assets after largely being shut out of international capital markets since 2022 because of rising interest rates in advanced nations.
Benin issued a debut dollar bond this week that was oversubscribed by more than six times, Ivory Coast sold its first eurobond in almost seven years in January and Kenya has announced plans to sell new securities.
The Angolan government nationalised Unitel in 2022 after taking control of the shares held by Isabel dos Santos, the daughter of former President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, and of an army general in the Luanda-based firm. Unitel has a 72% share of the Southern African nation’s mobile phone market.
Angola’s asset management agency IGAPE is the direct trustee of 50% of Unitel’s shares, with the other half controlled by Angolan state oil firm Sonangol. Unitel also holds a 51.9% stake in Banco de Fomento Angola.
In 2019, the government announced a list of 195 assets for disposal as part of Angola’s biggest-ever privatisation programme. Dos Santos, who is also deputy coordinator for Angola’s privatisation programme, did not say when the long-delayed sale of stakes in national oil company Sonangol and diamond firm Endiama will take place.
Angola’s economy is forecast to expand by 2.8% in 2024, compared with “very shy growth” last year, finance minister Vera Daves de Sousa said on 17 January. — Henrique Almeida and Candido Mendes, with Swetha Gopinath, (c) 2024 Bloomberg LP