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Meet Isabel dos Santos, 40, Africa’s First Woman Billionaire

Over the past few years Isabel dos Santos, the oldest daughter of Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, has been buying more shares of publicly traded companies in Portugal, including shares in a bank and a cable TV company. Those stakes, combined with assets Isabel dos Santos owns in at least one bank in Angola, have pushed her net worth over the $1 billion mark, according to research by Forbes, making the 40-year-old Africa’s first woman billionaire.

A spokesperson for Dos Santos in Portugal did not respond to a request for comment on her net worth status.

Isabel dos Santos studied engineering at King’s College in London, where she lived with her mother, who is divorced from President dos Santos. She opened her first business in 1997, at age 24, in Luanda, Angola – a restaurant called Miami Beach.

She has come a long way since then. She sits on the boards of several companies in Angola and Portugal and has been instrumental in making business decisions.

In May 2012, she was reported to increase her stake in ZON Multimedia, Portugal’s largest cable TV company, from 4.9 percent to 14.9 percent. She later boosted her stake again via two of her shareholding companies, Kento and Jadeium, and now owns 28.8 percent of ZON, worth a recent $385 million. She sits on ZON’s board and is the company’s largest shareholder. The president’s daughter also owns 19.5 percent of Banco BPI, one of Portugal’s largest publicly traded banks. That stake is worth $465 million.
In Angola, Isabel dos Santos sits on the board of Banco BIC and is reported to own a 25 percent stake in the bank, worth a conservative $160 million. Several sources knowledgeable about telecom in Angola told Forbes that she sits on the board of Unitel – one of the country’s two mobile phone networks – and is a 25 percent shareholder. That stake alone is worth $1 billion at a minimum, according to several telecom analysts. A spokeswoman for Dos Santos in Lisbon said she could not comment on Dos Santos’ Angolan holdings.

How did a 40-year-old woman who started out with just one restaurant come into such a vast fortune?

Peter Lewis, a professor of African Studies at Johns Hopkins University’s School for Advanced International Studies, did not review the information about Isabel dos Santos’ holdings and he said he didn’t know the specifics of her wealth, but he did shed some light on how business is done in Angola. “It’s clear through documented work that the ruling party and the president’s inner circle have a lot of business interests. The source of funds and corporate governance are very murky,” Lewis explained. “The central problem in Angola is the complete lack of transparency. We can’t trace the provenance of these funds”…

Read More: forbes.com

What people are saying

3 thoughts on “Meet Isabel dos Santos, 40, Africa’s First Woman Billionaire

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