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The Portuguese Chamber in association with Bloomberg, first held this event on November 2010 in the city of London. Now set to become a regular annual event in the chamber’s calendar, this conference demonstrates the business potential of Portuguese-speaking countries to the international business community.
The conference is held at Bloomberg’s headquarters and the panels between the invited CEO’s are moderated by Bloomberg analysts.
Portuguese-speaking countries across the globe cover a land mass the size of Canada and contain over 290 million people. In fact, Portuguese is currently the third most used language on social media, the sixth most spoken language in the world, and the first most spoken language in the southern hemisphere. The emerging markets of Brazil, Angola and Mozambique, in particular, offer outstanding business opportunities, but also significant challenges.
Each year the conference discusses different aspects of doing business in Portuguese-speaking countries. The discussion panel is secured by business leaders working with Portuguese-speaking countries, discussions vary from financing businesses in these countries to how do they adapt the investments to fit their environmental, sustainability and good governance (ESG) programmes.
The first Business in Portuguese was held on the 1st November 2010, in partnership with Diário Económico and mediated by the Financial Times’s Portugal Correspondent Peter Wise.
Our 2nd conference partners were Bloomberg, the world-leading media company, and the Business Confederation of Portuguese-Speaking Countries (CE-CPLP).
At the conference were discussed business opportunities in the Portuguese-speaking countries of Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Mozambique, Portugal, São Tomé and Timor with an audience of 150+ potential investors from the City of London.
After short presentations from Mr. Salimo Abdula from CE-CPLP and Mr Rodney Berkeley from UKTI, the conference moved on to discuss the markets of Brazil, Angola and Mozambique in particular detail.
Distinguished CEOs of sector-leading companies with particular expertise in these markets made up two panels, which were moderated by leading Bloomberg journalists Beth Kostick and Sonia Baldeira.
The first panel comprised CEOs from companies with significant investments in Portuguese-speaking Africa – namely Norman Hay, Executive Chairman of Kingbird Commodities; Joao Castello Branco, CEO of Semapa SGPS S.A. which owns the Navigator Company, Europe’s largest paper pulp producer; Filipe Batista, CEO, of ARCTEL – CPLP which covers telecoms companies in these countries, and Goncalo Moura Martins, CEO of Mota Engil SGPS S.A, ranked in Europe’s Top 30 construction companies.
The second panel included the CEOs of leading international business lawyers Cuatrecasas Goncalves Pereira; the top rated Angolan banks of Banco Millennium Atlantico and Banco Caixa Geral Angola, and ITAU BBA International, the European platform for Latin America’s largest corporate investment bank.
Daniel Santos the CEO of Banco Millennium Atlantico, Julio Lopes the Administrator of Banco Caixa Geral Angola, Luis Soares de Sousa, a Partner at Cuatrecasas, Goncalves Pereira Law Firm and Renato Lulia-Jacob, the CEO of Itau BBA International, debated themes including the likely mergers of Angolan banks in the near future.
After introductions from Jorge de Abreu, the Chairman of the Portuguese Chamber of Commerce in the UK, and Manuel Lobo Antunes, Portugal’s Ambassador to the UK, Antonio Monteiro, now the Chairman of leading Portuguese bank BCP, and formerly a career diplomat who negotiated the final peace settlements in Angola, took to the stage.
Mr Monteiro’s main message was that the Lusophone countries of Angola and Mozambique in sub-Saharan Africa are today’s frontier markets, where the cycle of development is now on the path to steady and sustainable growth. Indeed, his central point was that Europe must establish strong and enduring links with African countries in order to harness the commercial potential of their young populations and to prevent stagnation in the mature European markets.
The first panel, moderated by Bloomberg’s Beth Kostick Kemp, then discussed the upside –and the risk – of doing business in Brazil, Angola and Mozambique. João Mattamouros from Cuatrecasas commented on the risks Brazil faced during the 2008/10 had not properly assessed the risks posed by Brazil’s economy, where assets were often overpriced and the regulatory environment particularly challenging.
Meanwhile Norman Hay from Kingbird Commodities urged the audience to move away from regarding oil as the principal product of Angola, pointing out that agriculture and raw materials now offered better opportunities, given Angola’s young demographic and their urgent need for infrastructure.
Barnaby Fletcher from Control Risks summarised the current political problems in Mozambique, suggesting that investors concentrate on well-run private companies on the ground, rather than getting involved with government projects, which could be fraught with risk and the threat of regime change.
Sergio Gullo, from Brazil’s B3 Stock Exchange, was hopeful that Brazil was now emerging from the corruption crisis and that the current upswing in investments there was sustainable.
Panel two, moderated by Bloomberg’s Claudia Quinonez, discussed the need for international investors to see proof of good governance in these Lusophone markets. The panel discussion was preceded by a presentation from Francisco Machado of CDC Group, the British government’s overseas investment arm, which invests heavily in Asia and Africa.
CDC carries out rigorous due diligence on its investments, and concentrates on finding well-run companies who provide consumer products and services that do not rely on government contracts. They currently have several investments in Mozambique, and routinely request proof of good governance in these companies before investing. Nick Robinson from Aberdeen Standard Investments echoed this, saying that his company’s need to see good governance in their Brazilian targets, and their need to take a longer term view, had actively prevented them from making some investments.
James Harris of Risk Advisory Group stressed the need for in depth research on the ground before investment decisions were taken and Sheriff Alabi from the African Development Bank urged investors to engage with the local communities and to seek out local intelligence, saying that education in Lusophone Africa was the key to its future success, by ensuring that the education given in schools matched the needs of their market economies.
The chamber would like to thank all the speakers and attendees for taking part in our previous conferences and also thank our conference sponsors, without whom this event would not have been possible.
We hope to see you at our next “Business In Portuguese – Meet Leaders from Portuguese-Speaking Countries”!