Portugal: More investors interested in buying Efacec majority stake – minister

Portugal’s minister of state, economy and digital transition, Pedro Siza Vieira, has told Lusa that there have been further expressions of interest in the acquisition of the shares in Efacec, the country’s leading engineering company, that belongs to the state, besides the offers that are already publicly known.

“We have already had new expressions of interest beyond those who presented proposals in the process that was previously underway,” Siza Vieira told Lusa on Tuesday. 

He stressed that companies that presented proposals to buy a stake even before 71.73% of Efacec was nationalised will need to express their continued interested, since the government will have to formally open a privatisation process.

“We have also received expressions of interest from other sides,” Siza Vieira said, emphasising that the company no longer has the difficulties it had been having in recent times due to the difficulties of its former majority shareholder, Angolan businesswoman Isabel dos Santos.

Dos Santos is being investigated by Angolan prosecutors following the release of thousands of files known as the Luanda Leaks that are alleged to show illicit financial schemes set up by dos Santos and her husband to allow them to siphon off Angolan state funds through tax havens. Both deny any wrongdoing.

On 26 June, before it was nationalised, Efacec said that it had received around a dozen non-binding proposals from Portuguese and foreign industrial groups and investment funds for the acquisition of dos Santos’s stake in the company.

The following week, at a cabinet meeting on 2 July, the government approved the nationalisation of 71.73% of Efacec’s shares. Portugal’s president, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, promulgated the decree the same day, citing the temporary nature of the intervention.

The board of directors of Efacec has said that the nationalisation was a clear recognition of the company’s economic and strategic value, allowing its continued operations and maintaining its financial and operational value.

Two days later, de Sousa stressed that the nationalisation of Efacec should not be a lasting one, saying that it should be “the shorter the better”.

On 7 July, Siza Vieira said that the state had moved to save a company rather than the creditors and shareholders of Efacec and that the value of the compensation Isabel dos Santos would be paid for the shares would not be sufficient to pay off her debts.