Meet Africa’s First Female Billionaire: Isabel dos Santos

January 25, 2013  |  

Africa may have its first woman billionaire — Isabel dos Santos, the oldest daughter of Angolan President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos. And she has amassed a great deal of her wealth by investing. According to Forbes, Dos Santos, 40, “has been buying more shares of publicly traded companies in Portugal, including shares in a bank and a cable TV company.”

When the magazine calculated those investments combined with other assets Isabel dos Santos holds in at least one bank in Angola, her net worth surpasses the $1 billion mark.

Dos Santos started going into business early. She studied engineering at King’s College in London, where she lived with her mother, who is divorced from President dos Santos. Afterwards, she opened her first business in Luanda, Angola – a restaurant called Miami Beach — in 1997 at age 24, reports Forbes.

Obviously she has a keen eye for business. Last year, she reportedly increased her stake in ZON Multimedia, Portugal’s largest cable TV company, from 4.9 percent to 14.9 percent. Dos Santos, who sits on the boards of several companies in Angola and Portugal, also boosted her stake again through two of her shareholding companies, Kento and Jadeium. So she now owns 28.8 percent of ZON, worth a recent $385 million.

Dos Santos also owns 19.5 percent of Banco BPI, one of Portugal’s largest publicly traded banks. That investment is worth $465 million.

And it isn’t only overseas that dos Santos has investments. In oil- and diamond-rich Angola, she owns a 25 percent share of Banco BIC and that stake is worth a about $160 million. She is also a 25 percent shareholder in Unitel, one of the country’s two mobile phone companies. “That stake alone is worth $1 billion at a minimum, according to several telecom analysts,” says Forbes.

Her father has been president since 1979. The country gained independence from Portugal in 1975.

While she has reached this milestone, Forbes says there is no clear account of the origin of Isabel dos Santos’ fortune.

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