Portuguese Construction Company Eyes $1.8 Billion Building Projects in Nigeria

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By Henrique Almeida

CEO expects rising crude prices to bolster Africa construction

Africa unit initial public offering no longer seen as priority

Portuguese construction company Mota-Engil SGPS SA is looking at projects in Nigeria worth as much as 1.5 billion euros ($1.8 billion) after signing a joint venture with a local company to enter Africa’s largest economy and the continent’s biggest oil producer.

“The projects in Nigeria that are currently on the table vary between 20 million euros to 1.5 billion euros,” Manuel Antonio Mota, chief executive officer of Mota’s Africa unit, said in an interview on Tuesday on the sidelines of the EurAfrican forum in Estoril, near Lisbon. “This could make a big difference to our order book.”

Mota-Engil Africa currently has a 3-billion-euro backlog in a continent where it has a strong presence in Portuguese speaking Angola. Under the new venture, Mota-Engil will hold 51 percent of Mota-Engil Nigeria Ltd. while the Shoreline Group, an independent Nigerian oil producer, will hold the remaining stake.

Mota said the timing to enter Nigeria was “just right,” citing higher demand for building projects as an increase in oil prices bolsters the state coffers of oil producers in Africa.

While the Mota-Engil group is based in Portugal, the company was originally founded in 1946 in Angola, another top oil producer in Africa. Mota said he expects Angola to soon find a solution for late payments to Mota-Engil, which were triggered by a sharp drop in oil prices that began in mid-2014. Angola accounted for more than half of Mota-Engil Africa sales last year.

“We know that Angola went through a very difficult phase economically but it’s starting to recover,” said Mota. “In terms of late payments, we think there will be a solution in the near future,” he said, without providing details. Mota-Engil Africa is currently present in 14 African countries, according to the company’s website.

Mota-Engil Africa is no longer focusing on selling shares in an initial public offering, following a failed attempt in 2014 due to deteriorating market conditions.

“We are constantly being approached about this situation,” Mota said. “It’s not a priority at the moment.”

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Godwin Okafor is a Financial Journalist, Internet Social Entrepreneur and Founder of Naija247news Media Limited. He has over 16 years experience in financial journalism. His experience cuts across traditional and digital media. He started his journalism career at Business Day, Nigeria and founded Naija247news Media in 2010. Godwin holds a Bachelors degree in Industrial Relations and Personnel Management from the Lagos State University, Ojo, Lagos. He is an alumni of Lagos Business School and a Fellow of the University of Pennsylvania (Wharton Seminar for Business Journalists). Over the years, he has won a number of journalism awards. Godwin is the chairman of Emmerich Resources Limited, the publisher of Naija247news.

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