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Angola’s elite looks to clean up in Portugal

With Portugal struggling to pay its debts and the economy shrinking, the 
country needs help. Enter Angola – oil rich, with money to burn, and Portugal’s former prized colony. Angolan investment is growing fast – and nowhere more quickly than in the country’s troubled banks. Some Portuguese are up in arms about it. Sudip Roy reports.

ON JUNE 9, hundreds of African government officials, business leaders and financiers will arrive in Lisbon to attend the 46th annual meeting of the African Development Bank. There’s a historical and commercial logic in the Portuguese capital hosting the meeting. The European nation’s connection to Africa goes back to the 15th century when its sailors began exploring the continent’s coasts, eventually annexing territory in both the southwest and southeast.

Yet there’s a big irony, too, brutally demonstrating how the tables have turned for the country that built Europe’s first global empire.

With Portugal’s economy teetering on the brink of collapse, it is pinning its hopes of recovery on its former prized colonies, none more so than Angola. With its plight continuing to worsen, the AfDB meeting might yet degenerate into a cry for help from Portugal to the oil-rich African country that it ruled for four centuries.

Angola is a key market for Portuguese exporters as well as an important destination for its businesses as they seek to become more international. These include the country’s leading banks, such as Millennium BCP, Banco Espírito Santo (BES), Banco BPI and state-owned Caixa Geral de Depósitos (CGD), all of which have successful Angolan subsidiaries.

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