Africa’s richest woman expected to be removed from top job at Unitel

Africa’s richest woman is set to be ousted from the helm of Angola’s biggest telecommunications company as shareholders meet Tuesday to discuss corporate governance in the wake of legal action by one of its biggest investors.

The meeting at Unitel SA, whose chairwoman Isabel dos Santos owns 25 percent, comes after an arbitration court ruled that Brazilian telecommunications company Oi SA was entitled to receive $654 million from other Unitel shareholders because they violated several clauses of the company’s shareholders’ agreement and failed to pay dividends to Oi.

Shareholders with as much as 75 percent of Unitel are likely to vote for the removal of dos Santos, according to Antonio Estote, an independent economist and professor at the Universidade Lusiada de Angola. Estote also says besides Oi, state oil company Sonangol and army general Leopoldino do Nascimento, also hold shares in Unitel. Sonangol and Gen. Nascimento each hold 25 percent

“Dos Santos’ withdrawal weakens her in terms of power in Angola but she is likely to maintain her stake in Unitel,” Estote said in an emailed response to questions.

The daughter of former Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, Isabel amassed a fortune during her father’s almost four-decade rule and has an estimated net worth of about $2 billion, according to Bloomberg. Besides Unitel, her business interests include media, retail, finance and energy, both in Angola and in Portugal.

Sonangol has repeatedly said it wants a new board at Unitel, while Oi has publicly expressed its disapproval with management for withholding millions of dollars in dividend payments. Do Nascimento, who has close ties to the Dos Santos family, is likely to vote in favor of Isabel dos Santos’ removal to win favor with Lourenco, according to Estote.