Mystery surrounds the deal that sees the bulk of Herdade da Comporta – the Alentejan seaside resort ‘seized’ from disgraced Grupo Espírito Santo – sold to a Portuguese oil baron for a “symbolic price”.
Two years ago, US ‘investors’ were offering no less than €400 million for the property – promising to use the bulk of the money to pay off its massive debts (click here).
The sale was then stymied on the basis that liquidators needed to retain the asset for future compensation pay-outs to victims of the BES financial collapse (click here).
Yet today’s news makes no mention of money going to BES victims.
Indeed, popular tabloid Correio da Manhã claims the deal has gone through for a song, due to the “extreme fragility” of Herdade da Comporta’s financial situation”.
The new owner is described as Pedro Almeida (sic) “a businessman in the oil sector”.
Research suggests Pedro de Almeida is an accomplished oil baron who managed to sell one of his companies to the Chinese in during the height of the economic crisis for “around €5.2 billion”.
Said Público at the time: “The deal will done totally in money, which is rare in the conjuncture of the crisis”.
Today – despite stories announcing the sale – tabloid Correio da Manhã claims it is still not a completely done deal.
“At the centre of negotiations are matters relating to the debt of the (Herdade de Comporta Property Investment Fund) to CGD, which exceeded €111 million last year”.
“Grupo Espírito Santo holds a share in the Herdade da Comporta fund through Rioforte, the company that is in the process of insolvency in Luxembourg”, the paper explains. “It is there that the sale of this share is being negotiated between Rioforte’s director of insolvency and the representatives of Pedro Almeida”.
The sale is being seen as an operation destined to “save the fund, and above all the touristic development of Herdade da Comporta, the most valuable asset of GES.
“The operation has been authorised by the Public Ministry. The money will stay in Portugal.
“The agricultural part of Herdade da Comporta” which stretches over 12,500 hectares “is not included in the deal”, CM adds.
A source close to the Americans ‘blown out’ of negotiations in two years ago told us: “The Luxembourg administrator unfroze Comporta specifically so it could be sold at a low price. The Espírito Santo family were allowed to match any rigged low bid.
“Asher Edelman and his partner wanted to bid €400 million but they were blocked at every point, as this disrupted the plan to make a low offer”.
What is left hanging in the air, however, is whether BES victims will indeed ever see any ‘return’ as a result of this sale, the price tag of which is left conveniently undisclosed.