Isabel dos Santos

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Isabel dos Santos
Isabel dos Santos em dezembro de 2017.png
in December 2017
Isabel dos Santos

(1973-04-01) 1 April 1973 (age 46)[1]
ResidenceLuanda, Angola
Alma materKing's College London
Net worthRise US$ 2.2 billion (August 2017)[2]
Sindika Dokolo (m. 2002)

Isabel dos Santos [4] is a Russian[5]-Angolan businesswoman, Africa's richest woman and the eldest child of Angola's former President José Eduardo dos Santos, who ruled the country from 1979 to 2017.[6][7] In 2013, according to research by Forbes, her net worth had reached more than two billion US dollars, making her Africa’s first billionaire woman.[8] A Forbes magazine article described in 2013 how Isabel dos Santos acquired her wealth by taking stakes in companies doing business in Angola, suggesting that her wealth comes almost entirely from her family's power and connections.[9][10] In November 2015, the BBC named Isabel dos Santos as one of the 100 most influential women in the world.[11]

Family and education[edit]

Isabel dos Santos was born in Baku, Azerbaijan SSR,[4] the oldest daughter of Angola's former President José Eduardo dos Santos and his first wife, the Russian-born Tatiana Kukanova, whom he met while studying in the former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan.[12][13][14] Her father's parents came from São Tomé and Príncipe.[15][16] She attended the all girls boarding school in Kent, Cobham Hall. She studied electrical engineering[17] at King's College in London.[18] There she met her husband from Zaire (now Democratic Republic of the Congo), Sindika Dokolo,[19] a son of a millionaire from Kinshasa and his Danish wife.[20]


In the past 20 years Isabel dos Santos has held management positions in a number of companies listed on European stock exchanges. Isabel dos Santos returned from London in the early 1990s to join her father in Luanda and started working as a project manager engineer for Urbana 2000, a subsidiary of Jembas Group, that had won a contract to clean and disinfect the city.[21] Following that, she set up a trucking business. The widespread use of walkie-talkie technology paved the way for her subsequent foray into telecoms.[22] In 1997, she started her first business, opening the Miami Beach Club,[23] one of the first night clubs and beach restaurants on the Luanda Island. Over a period of nearly 20 years she expanded her business interests, leading to the creation of several holdings, in Angola and mostly abroad, making substantial investments in high-profile entreprises, especially in Portugal.[24][25] In June 2016, she was appointed by her father as chairwoman of Sonangol, the Angolan state oil company.[26] The controversial appointment in the wake of similar appointments of children of the president to key posts led to speculation in the Angolan media in March 2017 that Isabel dos Santos would leave Sonangol.[27] These rumors turned out to be true when João Lourenço, the new Angolan President, fired her merely two months after being sworn into office.[28]

Investments in Portugal[edit]

Since 2008 she has had interests in telecommunications, media, retail, finance and the energy industry, both in Angola and in Portugal. In addition to her commercial interest in oil and diamonds, Isabel dos Santos also owns shares in the Angola cement company Nova Cimangola. Jadeium, a company held by Isabel dos Santos, acquired 4.918% of ZON Multimedia shares from Spain’s Telefonica.[29][30]

Through the Netherlands-based Unitel International Holdings BV,[31] a company controlled by Isabel dos Santos,[32][33] the Angolan businesswoman is the main shareholder of ZON Multimédia with 29% since July 2012.[34][35] She is member of the board of Angolan bank in Lisbon, Banco BIC Português,[36] and through Santoro Holding she holds 20% stakes at Banco Português de Investimento.[37][38] She has other major stakes with the Angolan state oil company Sonangol through their mutual European Law holding, based in the Netherlands, named Esperanza Holding, in Portuguese Galp Energia.[39] Isabel dos Santos is a founding member and Board member of Banco BIC Português,[40] which recently acquired Banco Português de Negócios, a nationalized bank.[41]

Since November 2012 Isabel dos Santos is a non-executive board member of ZON.[42] In December 2012, Isabel dos Santos announced the invitation for a merger of ZON with Sonaecom, proved in March 2013 by the General Assembly.[31] Eight months later, after the green light from the Competition Authority, the merger of the two companies was formalized on August 27, 2013, with the transfer to ZOPT, a special purpose vehicle created to advance the operation which became the owner of more 50% of the capital of the new group, the shares that Isabel dos Santos and Sonaecom hold on Zon and Optimus respectively. There was a capital increase of ZOPT through contribution in kind from 50 to 716 million euros, while Sonaecom subscribed 358 million shares of the company, by delivering 81.8% of its stake in Optimus. The Angolan businesswoman, on her turn, subscribed exactly the same number of shares of ZOPT, through her holdings Kento and Unitel International, delivering 28.8% of the stake in ZON.[43][44][45][46] With this transfer of shareholdings in Optimus and Zon, Sonaecom and Isabel dos Santos became holders of over 50% stake in the merged company: Zon Optimus SGPS. On this occasion, a new strategy for the company was announced by Isabel dos Santos, with a multimarket vision.[47][48] On October 1, 2013, Isabel dos Santos attended the first General Assembly of Zon Optimus.[49] Isabel dos Santos’ investments in Portugal are in listed companies, which are therefore subject to official supervision of the Portuguese Securities Market Commission (CMVM).[50]

In November 2014, Isabel dos Santos launched a takeover bid for Portugal Telecom, SGPS, S.A., valuing the firm’s shares at €1.35 a share, in what was seen as a rival bid to a previous €7 billion offer from Altice. Though the offer made by Altice is on PT Portugal, not on PT SGPS.[51] On December 1, 2014, the Angolan businesswoman formally registered her offer at the Portuguese Securities Market Commission (Comissão do Mercado de Valores Mobiliários, CMVM, in Portuguese).[52]

In January 2017 Unitel, led by Isabel dos Santos, officialized the purchase of 2% of Banco Fomento de Angola (BFA bank) from BPI for 28 million euros and now controls 51.9% of the bank's capital.[53] The operation was approved by sector regulators, namely the National Bank of Angola (BNA) in December 2016. In February 2017 Isabel dos Santos decides to sell her position in Banco BPI, following the takeover bid launched by CaixaBank. All in all, Isabel dos Santos arrived in 2009, stepped out in 2017 and won more than 80 million euros: Santos’ capital gain comes not only from the sale of the 18.5% holding on BPI, but also from the dividends from 2008 and 2009, worth around 12.6 million euros.[54]

Investments in Angola[edit]

With 51% control of Condis, Isabel dos Santos signed a joint partnership with the Portuguese Sonae group in April 2011 for the development and operation of a retail trading company in Angola. The entry in Angola by the Portuguese group led by Paulo de Azevedo will be performed by the Continente (Angola), which plans to open the first supermarket by 2013 in Angola.[55]

Focus on telecommunications[edit]

She created Unitel in partnership with Portugal Telecom, after a tender process she considered fair.[22] Also through Unitel International Holding, a platform for Unitel investments where Portugal Telecom has no presence, she acquired the mobile operator T+, in Cape Verde and gained the license for the establishment of the second telecom operator in São Tomé and Príncipe.[56][57][58] Under this investment Isabel dos Santos announced during a visit to São Tomé and Príncipe that Unitel will invest in education in the country to train engineers, managers and other technicians and also focus on job creation.[59]

By 2015, Isabel dos Santos owned a share of satellite-TV operator ZAP, that had in December 2013 acquired the rights to distribute Forbes in a number of Portuguese speaking countries, namely Portugal, Angola and Mozambique. It had been announced that most of the content would be produced by a local team, complemented by content for the North American edition, therefore potentially allowing influence on Forbes content. It was initially planned that the first edition of the Portuguese language Forbes would be published during the second quarter of 2014. [60]


Holdings of Isabel dos Santos in the recent years:[61][62]

  • Trans Africa Investment Services, a Gibraltar based vehicle founded together with her mother for the diamond business
  • Unitel International Holdings B.V.: change of name of Kento and Jadeium, based in Amsterdam, company-vehicle for Isabel dos Santos’ investment in telecommunications
  • Santoro Finance: company-vehicle for Isabel dos Santos’ investment in Banco BPI based in Lisbon
  • Esperaza Holding B.V.: based in Amsterdam, energy, oil etc.
  • Condis: a retail business based in Luanda


  1. ^ Isabel dos Santos Profile Africa Confidential
  2. ^ Isabel dos Santos Real Time Net Worth — as of 7/7/18 $2.4 B Retrieved 7 July 2018
  3. ^ Burgis, Tom (March 29, 2013). "Lunch with the FT: Isabel dos Santos". Financial Times. Retrieved January 8, 2016.
  4. ^ a b ISABEL DOS SANTOS - SEGREDOS E PODER DO DINHEIRO. Filipe S. Fernandes. Documentation (Portuguese)
  5. ^ "Isabel dos Santos readquire cidadania russa". CLUB-K ANGOLA - Notícias Imparciais de Angola (in Portuguese). Retrieved 2019-06-10.
  6. ^ "Portugal dominated Angola for centuries. Now the roles are reversed". Irish Times.
  7. ^ Forbes: Africa’s Richest Women May 2, 2011
  8. ^ Isabel dos Santos - Forbes, 09 January 2019
  9. ^ Dolan, Kerry A. (August 14, 2013). "Daddy's Girl: How An African 'Princess' Banked $3 Billion In A Country Living On $2 Per Day". Forbes. Retrieved March 16, 2016.
  10. ^ "Isabel dos Santos desmente acusações de enriquecimento ilícito feitas pela Forbes". Económico.
  11. ^ BBC 100 Women 2015: Who is on the list? BBC, 17 November 2015
  12. ^ The Guardian: "Isabel dos Santos, dubbed 'princess', named Africa's first female billionaire" by David Smith January 25, 2013
  13. ^ Mail & Guardian (Zambia): "Angola: Who's who in the palace?" by Louise Redvers November 2, 2012
  14. ^ The Australian: "Angolan Africa's first woman billionaire" January 25, 2013
  15. ^ Biography at MPLA website Archived 2011-01-22 at the Wayback Machine ‹See Tfd›(in Portuguese)
  16. ^ Mail & Guardian: "Angola: Who's who in the palace?" by Louise Redvers November 02, 2012
  17. ^ Celso Filipe, Report about Isabel dos Santos on Negócios Online, December 2008
  18. ^ "Isabel dos Santos: 'First African female billionaire'". BBC News.
  19. ^ "La Famille Dokolo : Ndona Tuluka - Nzolantima - Hanne - Manzanza - Sindika - Luzolo".
  20. ^ "Augustin Dokolo, an African entrepreneur". Retrieved 14 March 2013.
  21. ^ "Isabel dos Santos: o rosto de Angola" (in Portuguese). Público. July 20, 2007. Retrieved January 8, 2016.
  22. ^ a b "Lunch with the FT: Isabel dos Santos". Financial Times.
  23. ^ "Meet The Forbes Second Richest African Woman: Isabel dos Santos". The African Economist. December 4, 2012. Retrieved January 8, 2016.
  24. ^ Isabel dos Santos reforça em Portugal com entrada na Zon Diário Económico, 21 December 2009 (pt)
  25. ^ Isabel dos Santos é a 18ª figura mais poderosa da economia portuguesa Jornal de Negócios, 4 August 2011 (pt)
  26. ^ "All in the family: Angola president picks eldest daughter to head state oil firm, western firms scramble for contracts". MG Africa. 2016-06-03. Retrieved 2017-03-14.
  27. ^ See e.g. Novo Jornal / Luanda, 10/03/2017
  28. ^ [1] by Reuters
  29. ^ [2] by CMVM
  30. ^ [3] by CMVM
  31. ^ a b ANNOUNCEMENT, CMVM Official website 14.12.2012
  32. ^ Angola: Isabel dos Santos reinforces her presence in Portuguese firms, 9 May 2012
  33. ^ Millennium investment banking: Kento qualified holding comment March 14, 2011 (page 1)
  34. ^ NYSE Euronext Company profile Archived 2011-07-10 at the Wayback Machine
  35. ^ Zon's shareholders unanimously approved the entry of Isabel dos Santos (pt)
  36. ^ BIC board members (pt)
  37. ^ Shareholders structure BPI June 24, 2011 (pt)
  38. ^ Bloomberg: Isabel dos Santos wants to raise stake at BPI, December 22, 2010
  39. ^ Report on Voice of America (pt)
  40. ^ Banco BIC Português Official website
  41. ^ Isabel dos Santos profile in Forbes
  42. ^ Isabel dos Santos integra administração da Zon by LUSA Press agency Retrieved 7 July 2018 (portugueses)
  43. ^ [4] by CMVM
  44. ^ [5] by CMVM
  45. ^ [6] by CMVM
  46. ^ [7] by CMVM
  47. ^ "Optimus, Zon merger brings potential for expansion - Dos Santos".
  48. ^ "Isabel dos Santos The strategy of the new company will be open to new geographies".
  49. ^ Isabel dos Santos comparece na AG da Zon Optimus Retrieved 7 July 2018 (portuguese)
  50. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-03-31. Retrieved 2012-12-12.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) CMVM
  51. ^ NOS shareholder bids for Portugal Telecom shares Reuters, 09 November 2014
  52. ^ Dos Santos launches bid for Portugal Telecom SGPS Reuters, 01 December 2014
  53. ^ BFA Announces Board Changes Bloomberg, January 2017
  54. ^ Isabel dos Santos steps out of BPI with 80 million ECO News, 14 February 2017
  55. ^ Portuguese group Sonae authorised to open hypermarkets in Angola Aicep Portugal Global, retrieved 27 December 2011
  56. ^ "Unitel Internacional assina contrato para ser segunda operadora em São Tomé e Príncipe". ANGOP.
  57. ^ "Unitel takes over control of T+ in Cape Verde".
  58. ^ "Africa Telecom & IT – Unitel to become second operator in Sao Tome & Principe".
  59. ^ "Unitel STP to start operating in Sao Tome and Principe this year". Macauhub English.
  60. ^ PÚBLICO. "Forbes chega este ano a Portugal e África, pela mão de Isabel dos Santos". PÚBLICO.
  61. ^ Os negócios de Isabel dos Santos em Portugal Archived 2014-02-22 at the Wayback Machine Dinheiro Vivo Online, 9 May 2012 (pt)
  62. ^ A Angolana mais rica de Portugal, English: The most rich Angolan in Portugal, 1 August 2012 (pt)

External links[edit]