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AFP / (From L-R) BPI CEO Fernando Ulrich, BPI Chairman Artur Santos Silva, CaixaBank CEO Gonzalo Gortazar, CaixaBank Geral Director Pablo Ferero and BPI executive board member Jose Pena Amaral attend a press conference in Lisbon on February 8, 2017
The Portuguese bank with the highest growth in recent years has emerged from Caixabank’s public offer of shares with greater Spanish influence, without an internal war, with Isabel dos Santos gone and promises of further changes in the future.
It was already known that the Caixabank IPO would mark the end of an era in BPI, for better or worse. The Spanish bank had left hanging the idea that it would partially move away from the Portuguese bank if it was not successful, but at the end of the complicated process, it ends up looking like the winner in a long war with other prominent shareholders.
The agreement with Isabel dos Santos was achieved through the ‘offer’ of the majority of shares in Banco Fomento Angola (BFA), one of BPI’s most valuable assets, which the Portuguese bank was forced to sell because of pressure from the European Central Bank (ECB). For many months, the businesswoman blocked the alternatives, eventually forcing the administration of BPI and the largest shareholder Caixabank to agree a final solution: the sale of 10 percent of BFA to Unitel.
This deal was crucial to opening the door to the public offering and convinced Isabel dos Santos to bury the axe and sell her stake in BPI through Unitel. Despite injunctions filed by Violas Ferreira, the support of the daughter of the Angolan president was decisive in placing the majority of BPI capital in the hands of Caixabank.
The Spanish group La Caixa holds 84.5 percent of the capital of BPI in exchange for EUR 644.5 million, absorbing the participation of Isabel dos Santos, a large part of the Violas Ferreira share and the shares of several small investors.
With the majority of capital, the Caixabank Spaniards promise support in the recapitalization and the ambition to “be part of Portugal’s future”. However, a wave of “mutual agreement” layoffs is expected to affect 900 workers.
The administration and the executive council are also preparing for changes. Long-serving president Fernando Ulrich will leave the executive presidency and become chairman by his own choice, on order to reduce stress in his everyday life. He will be replaced by Pablo Forero, a figure in the management of Caixabank for almost a decade.
Artur Santos Silva will leave the position of chairman to become honorary chairman of a more Spanish bank.
On the stock exchange there are also changes. As of Friday, February 10, BPI shares are no longer part of the PSI 20 Index, which brings together the largest listed companies on the Portuguese stock exchange. Still, Caixabank has announced its intention to keep BPI listed on the exchange.Source: Lusa