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Espírito Santos and Queiroz Pereiras: Duel of two dynasties

Ricardo Salgado went to war with a rival pillar of the Portuguese business establishment in his frantic efforts to shore up Espírito Santo group. But Pedro Queiroz Pereira had the last laugh

For a man steeped in family honour, there is a rueful irony in the fact that it was a dynastic feud that ultimately proved instrumental in bringing down Ricardo Salgado and the Espírito Santo name.

In 2001, one of the country’s leading businessmen and a long-standing associate of the Espírito Santo clan, the industrialist Pedro Queiroz Pereira, first became aware of intriguing movements in the share registers of companies around his family’s corporate jewel, Semapa, which dominates Portugal’s pulp, paper and concrete industries.

‘Pequepe’ or PQP, as he is known to the Portuguese, had noticed that a stake in a key holding company of his empire was acquired by what appeared to be a Luxembourg shelf company called Mediterranean, which was represented in official filings by a nominee company owned by Ricardo Salgado’s Banco Espírito Santo.

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