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.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.