Isabel dos Santos, born April 20, 1973, is an Angolan-Russian businesswoman, and Africa’s richest woman. She is the eldest child of Angola’s former President, José Eduardo dos Santos; she was born in Baku, Azerbaijan SSR. Isabel dos Santos began her business career in 1997.
|Isabel dos Santos
|Date of Birth:
|April 20, 1973 (49 years old)
|Baku, Azerbaijan SSR
|Sindika Dokolo (late)
Early Life and Education
Isabel dos Santos is the eldest daughter of former Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santos and his first wife, Russian-born Tatiana Kukanova, whom he met while studying in the then Soviet republic of Azerbaijan.
Her father’s parents were originally from So Tomé and Prncipe. She went to Cobham Hall School, an all-girls boarding school in Kent, and St Paul’s Girls’ School in London.
She went to King’s College in London to study electrical engineering. Sindika Dokolo, the son of a businessman from Kinshasa and his Danish wife, was her spouse from Zaire (now Democratic Republic of the Congo).
Isabel dos Santos is a Russian and Angolan citizen.
Isabel dos Santos began her business career in 1997, forming firms and interests in Angola and largely abroad, investing heavily in high-profile companies, particularly in Portugal.
Isabel dos Santos began her career as a project manager engineer for Urbana 2000, a Jembas Group subsidiary that had won a contract to clean and disinfect the city, in the early 1990s.
She then started her own trucking company. The widespread adoption of walkie-talkie technology prepared the stage for later forays into telecommunications.
She opened her first company in 1997, the Miami Beach Club, one of Luanda Island’s first nightclubs and beach eateries.
Her father selected her as chair of Sonangol, the Angolan state oil firm, in June 2016.
The contentious appointment, which followed similar appointments of the president’s children to crucial positions, was short-lived, as Joo Lourenço, the new President of Angola, removed her barely two months after taking office.
The Luanda Provincial Court ordered the freezing of dos Santos’, her husband’s, Sindika Dokolo’s, and Mário Filipe Moreira Leite da Silva’s personal bank accounts on December 30, 2019.
According to the Attorney General’s office, the three businessmen made transactions with the Angolan government through Sodiam, a public diamond sales company, and Sonangol, the national oil corporation. Angola has lost $1.14 billion as a result of these agreements.
The court obtained a document demonstrating that dos Santos’ assets, as well as many others, were purchased using funds from two state-owned firms.
Meanwhile, following a claim brought by Ana Gomes, a Portuguese Member of the European Parliament, the Portuguese Attorney-Office General’s has begun an investigation into a number of Isabel dos Santos’ businesses.
She has made the United Arab Emirates her official abode since the seizure.
Forbes removed Dos Santos from the list of Africa’s wealthiest people in 2021 after freezing her assets in Angola and Portugal.
Dos Santos has had stakes in key Portuguese industries since 2008, including telecommunications, media, retail, finance, and energy.
In 2012, dos Santos purchased ZON Multimédia, a telecommunications and media company that offers mobile and fixed telephone, cable television, satellite television, and the internet.
She rose from a minor position in the corporation to become the largest stakeholder, with 28.8%. The purchases were made through the holding firms Jadeium and Kento (later Netherlands-based Unitel International Holdings BV).
She purchased a 20% stake in Banco Português de Investimento through Santoro Holding.
She also owns a significant share in the Angolan national oil business Sonangol through their joint European Law holding, Esperanza Holding, domiciled in the Netherlands, in Portuguese Galp Energia.
Dos Santos is a founder member and board member of Banco BIC Português, which recently bought the nationalized Banco Português de Negócios.
Dos Santos invited ZON to merge with Sonaecom in December 2012, which the General Assembly approved in March 2013.
After receiving approval from the Competition Authority, the merger of the two companies was formalized on August 27, 2013, with the transfer of dos Santos and Sonaecom’s shares in Zon and Optimus to ZOPT, a special purpose vehicle created to advance the operation, which became the owner of more than 50% of the new group’s capital.
Dos Santos filed a takeover attempt for Portugal Telecom, SGPS, S.A. in November 2014, valuing the company’s shares at €1.35 per share, in what was viewed as a counter-offer to Altice’s previous €7 billion offer, albeit Altice’s offer was for PT Portugal, not PT SGPS.
The Portuguese Securities Market Commission (Comisso do Mercado de Valores Mobiliários, CMVM) officially registered the Angolan businesswoman’s offer on December 1, 2014.
Unitel, led by dos Santos, purchased 2% of Banco Fomento de Angola (BFA) from BPI for 28 million euros in January 2017, giving it control of 51.9 percent of the bank’s capital.
Sector regulators, including the National Bank of Angola (BNA), approved the operation in December 2016. Following CaixaBank’s takeover proposal in February 2017, dos Santos decides to sell her stake in Banco BPI.
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 percent stake in BPI, but also from the 12.6 million euro dividends between 2008 and 2009.
Dos Santos signed a joint venture with the Portuguese Sonae business in April 2011 for the establishment and operation of a retail trade company in Angola, with 51 percent ownership of Condis.
The Continente (Angola), which planned to open the first supermarket in Angola by 2013, was to carry out the entry of the Portuguese group led by Paulo de Azevedo into the country.
Unitel was founded by her in collaboration with Portugal Telecom, following a fair tender process.
She also acquired the mobile operator T+ in Cape Verde and obtained the license for the formation of the second telecom operator in So Tomé and Prncipe through Unitel International Holding, a framework for Unitel operations in countries where Portugal Telecom does not have a presence.
During a visit to So Tomé and Prncipe, dos Santos declared that Unitel will invest in education in the country, training engineers, managers, and other technicians, as well as focusing on job development.
Isabel dos Santos Net Worth
Isabel dos Santos is an Angolan-Russian businesswoman, and Africa’s richest woman with an estimated net worth of $3.5 billion.
Isabel dos Santos was married to Sindika Dokolo, a Congolese art collector and businessman. They got married in 2002.
Dokolo died in a diving accident off the coast of Dubai on October 29, 2020, at the age of 48, with assets still frozen in Angola, Portugal, and the Netherlands.
Despite the controversy, after analyzing the forensic report and listening to the deceased’s friends’ accounts, the authorities concluded that there was no criminal suspicion behind the death.