News

    Portuguese Firms Sell Stakes to Angola, Brazil, China Amid Criticism

    A crane is seen over an abandoned tourist resort construction in Gale on the southern Portuguese province of Algarve, March 6, 2012.
    A crane is seen over an abandoned tourist resort construction in Gale on the southern Portuguese province of Algarve, March 6, 2012.
    Dominic Laurie

    While struggling under the weight of its $100 billion bailout, Portugal's state and private companies are selling off bits of themselves to raise money. Portugal's former colonies are doing much of the purchasing. With China also getting involved, there are disagreements over whether the sell-offs are a good idea.

    Many centuries ago, Portugal was rich. Explorers like Vasco da Gama sailed up the Tagus river into the port here at Lisbon bringing riches from conquered lands. But nowadays, it is a different story.  

    The government has to pay 12 percent interest rates to borrow over 10 years. Wages are falling. The economy is stagnant, and the government is struggling to pay off its debts. Both private companies and government need fresh capital from abroad.

    Foreign investment in Portugal's state, private companies

    This drummer playing to tourists walking along the riverside promenade in Lisbon is not the only Angolan making his presence felt in Portugal's capital. His country is acquiring stakes in banks and energy firms - and has been invited to invest in Portugal's national airline and airport operators.

    A Brazilian company is buying the biggest Portuguese cement maker amid some local opposition. The fact that Angola has a poor human-rights record makes some Portuguese uneasy. But that is not the reason Portugal's union confederation international secretary, Augusto Praca, does not like these transactions.

    He said the unions are against selling Portuguese companies to international stakeholders, because these Portuguese companies are strategic - not only for economic development - but also because they produce a lot of profit. He said Portugal needs this profit to pay off its debts.

    Unease over China's shopping spree

    China also is getting in on the act. It has bought stakes in Portugal's main electricity supplier and also the company that runs the power grid. This is controversial. Many Portuguese feel strategic assets should not be sold to China, an undemocratic country with little transparency on human rights.  

    A prominent left-wing politician recently accused the government of lacking honor by selling to Beijing. But the former chairman of the Lisbon stock exchange, Miguel de Marques, says Chinese money can be attractive, as illustrated by the recent electricity company deals.

    "A Chinese company called Three Gorges made a premium offer, paid the best price, and offered a certain number of other conditions, like keeping the headquarters in Portugal, which is the place where economic value is created. So it was an unbeatable proposition," he said.

    There are still some businesses in Portugal that are thriving.  

    The foreigners lining up at a famous pastry shop in Lisbon are customers, not shareholders. But the low-earning Portuguese have high debts. They would find it hard to invest in their own companies, even if they wanted to. Portugal is perhaps now past the point of choosing from where it gets badly needed investment.






    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora