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Portugal says eight groups interested in Efacec reprivatisation

By Sergio Goncalves

LISBON (Reuters) - Eight Portuguese and foreign entities have expressed interest in buying a 71.7% stake in engineering firm Efacec, once owned by Angolan businesswoman Isabel dos Santos and nationalised in 2020, state holding company Parpublica said on Tuesday.

Portugal nationalised the majority stake in Efacec Power Solutions in July 2020 after Dos Santos, the daughter of former Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, became a suspect in a fraud investigation in Angola and her bank accounts in Portugal were seized.

Dos Santos, who held significant stakes in several other major firms in Portugal, has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

The government intends to reprivatise the stake, but in October the first attempt to sell it to a Portuguese company failed and Parpublica immediately launched a second international tender.

"Parpublica received, within the established period, expressions of interest from eight national and foreign entities," it said in a statement.

As soon as the pre-selection of the candidates is done "the first phase will begin, aiming for the pre-selected potential interested parties to present binding proposals," it said.

It did not say when the sale process could be completed, nor the value of the potential transaction.

Efacec has more than 2,300 employees in Portugal and the government has cited its importance to the economy given its innovative projects.

Dos Santos bought her stake in the company in 2015 for around 200 million euros ($210.06 million) through offshore company Winterfell 2 Limited.

The last time Efacec publicly disclosed its accounts was in 2020, when it had a loss of 73.4 million euros and a gross debt of more than 180 million euros.

($1 = 0.9521 euros)

(Reporting by Sergio Goncalves; editing by Andrei Khalip and Richard Chang)