Salary cuts, collective redundancies and terminations, benefit reductions, tensions with unions. When a new shareholder comes in to take care of a company that is in trouble and needs to take a turnaround, it is not uncommon to see these events.
After Isabel dos Santos bought a controlling position at Efacec in 2015, it was not a big surprise that we saw a sequence of this type of news.
The historic engineering company and, increasingly, energy and mobility, had 'stretched' in expansion and needed new capital. Amid criticisms of the redundancies and alleged pressure in the elections for the workers' committee, Efacec has been collecting some successes in the form of orders and has returned to profits.
Isabel dos Santos insists that the company has had “a successful path”.
That may have been one of the results of your investment. The other is, without a doubt, the precarious situation in which one of the most prestigious Portuguese companies now finds itself.
The problem was not Isabel dos Santos' strategy for the company. The problem was that Isabel dos Santos made the investment. Yes, the Angolan businesswoman already had prominent positions in companies such as Galp, NOS, Eurobic and BPI, but that could not serve as a justification for joining another important company. The government of Pedro Passos Coelho should have avoided this mistake, because it knew that the situation was changing in Angola and placing a valuable asset, even though it was going through a difficult period, in the hands of a politically exposed person, it was dangerous.
The government of António Costa may now come to arm himself in salvador, saying that he will take whatever measures are necessary to protect the company, which he considers strategic for the country, but is also not without blame.
Where were you in 2016, when Ana Gomes asked Brussels to investigate the legality of the purchase of Efacec by Isabel dos Santos in view of European anti-money laundering legislation? Was it one of the successive governments that colluded with the kleptocracy in Angola? Most likely.
The complex network used by Isabel dos Santos to buy the stake in Efacec, including involving the Angolan State, raised suspicions and, at the very least, recalled the political exposure of the daughter of former President José Eduardo dos Santos.
The danger of this exposure became real in December, when Angola seized the businesswoman's assets, a process that escalated with the release of 'Luanda Leaks' files.
Efacec was dragged into the situation, to serious problems at the worst possible time, in a pandemic that is causing a huge recession. But in this case, we cannot blame the virus. Efacec's descent began in 2015, when Isabel dos Santos opened the door.