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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs