As Angola Accuses Billionaire Isabel Dos Santos Of Fraud, Her Empire Begins To Unravel

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Isabel dos Santos amassed an empire worth more than $2 billion as the daughter of Angola’s former longtime president. Now it looks like that empire is beginning to crumble.

On Wednesday—as the Attorney General of Angola held a press conference to provisionally charge Isabel dos Santos with embezzlement and money laundering, according to the BBC—a bank in Portugal where she has been a significant shareholder issued a statement saying that Dos Santos’ stake is being sold.

EuroBic, a small privately held bank in Lisbon in which Dos Santos has owned a 42.5% stake, issued a statement on Monday that it was severing its business relationship with Dos Santos and the entities related to her. On Wednesday EuroBic announced that Dos Santos had decided to sell her stake in the bank, which has about $8 billion in assets. Forbes recently valued Dos Santos’ 42.5% stake at around $200 million.

Dos Santos has come under intense scrutiny this past week after a number of media outlets, including the New York Times, the BBC and The Guardian, published articles based on the “Luanda Leaks”—a cache of some 700,000 documents related to Dos Santos’ allegedly corrupt business dealings that were released to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

Dos Santos was appointed to head Angola’s state oil company, Sonangol, in 2016, when her father was still president of the country. (He retired in 2017 after ruling Angola for 38 years.)

According to an article in The Guardian, while Dos Santos was heading up Sonangol, she allegedly arranged for a transfer of $57 million on one day in November 2017 from Sonangol’s bank account to a Dubai company, Matter Business Solutions, run by Paula Oliveira, a woman who The Guardian says is apparently a close friend of Dos Santos’.

It turns out that the Sonangol bank account from which the funds were transferred was a EuroBic account. In its statement severing ties with Dos Santos, EuroBic also said that the payments ordered by Sonangol to Matter Business Solutions “respected the legal and regulatory procedures formally applicable . . . between this bank and Sonangol, namely those related to the prevention of money laundering.”

The BBC is reporting that an employee of EuroBic who managed the Sonangol account, Nuno Ribeiro da Cunha, 45, was found dead in Lisbon on Wednesday. A police source told the BBC that “everything points to suicide.”

Dos Santos issued a statement on Thursday saying, “The allegations which have been made against me over the last few days are extremely misleading and untrue,” and adding that “I am a private businesswoman who has spent 20 years building successful companies from the ground up,” and that “I have always operated within the law and all my transactions have been approved by lawyers, bankers, auditors and regulators.”

Forbes first dug into the murky origins of Isabel dos Santos’ fortune, with help from Angolan investigative journalist Rafael Marques de Morais, in an in-depth investigation in 2013. In late December 2019, an Angolan court issued a freeze of Dos Santos’ assets in Angola—assets that Forbes estimates are worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Most of Dos Santos’ fortune—which Forbes estimates at $2.1 billion—lies in assets held outside of Angola, primarily in Portugal.

The natural question: Will other Portuguese companies in which Dos Santos is a shareholder follow in EuroBic’s footsteps?

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I’m a San Francisco-based Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on wealth. I edit mostly, but also write about how the richest get wealthy and how they spend their time and their money. My colleague Luisa Kroll at Forbes in New York and I oversee the massive reporting effort that goes into Forbes’ annual World’s Billionaires List and the Forbes 400 Richest Americans list. The former gets me to use my rusty Spanish and Portuguese. In 2014, I won an Overseas Press Club award for an article I wrote about Saudi Arabian billionaire investor Prince Alwaleed bin Talal; I also won a Gerald Loeb Award with co-author Rafael Marques de Morais for an article we wrote about Isabel dos Santos, the eldest daughter of Angola’s President. Over 20 years my Forbes reporting has taken me to 17 countries on four continents, from the slums of Manila to palaces in Saudi Arabia and Mexico’s presidential residence. Follow me on Twitter @KerryDolan My email: kdolan[at]forbes[dot] com Tips and story ideas welcome.

Source: As Angola Accuses Billionaire Isabel Dos Santos Of Fraud, Her Empire Begins To Unravel

How This Entrepreneur Raised $1 Million and Is Leading an Energy Revolution Before Age 30

The path of the entrepreneur is a bold one. At every stage of the journey, you continually make bold decisions and take bold risks.

This has certainly been the case in my journey as a founder. We started a smart home company (in 2013) when everyone said we were crazy. We saw the vision and moved toward it in the face of uncertainty and risk.

When I was starting, I identified other leaders who were making bold decisions. It helped to feel like I was not alone along the path. I followed entrepreneurs accomplished their goals, and other young leaders blazing a new trail. I recently encountered an inspiring story that demonstrates just how bold we can be.​

Ugwem Eneyo is the co-founder and CEO of Shyft Power Solutions, an energy technology company that’s working to enable an energy revolution for underserved consumers in emerging markets. Eneyo, a graduate student at Stanford University, and a member of Forbes 30 under 30, has secured more than $1 million in funding from investors and participated in the 2019 Ameren Accelerator program. GreenBiz named her a 2019 VERGE Vanguard honoree to recognize her dedication to helping advance Nigeria’s energy infrastructure.

Personally, I feel inspired by Eneyo’s bold ambitions to create solutions in an emerging market with a nascent entrepreneurial system – especially in an industry as demanding as energy. I interviewed her to learn more about her role in energy, Shyft’s path to raising money and how accelerators can be a beneficial platform for entrepreneur success.

1. How did you get interested in energy technology?

Ugwem Eneyo: My family is from the Niger Delta, a region that suffered negative environmental and socioeconomic impacts as a result of the extractive industries. After directly seeing the challenges and how they affected my family and communities in the region, I became keenly interested in the nexus of energy, environment and development.

I actually spent years working as an environmental and regulatory advisor in the oil and gas sector, trying to mitigate the impacts and drive change from within the organizations. I eventually left to pursue my M.S. and Ph.D. in civil and environmental engineering at Stanford, still focused on the theme. Shyft Power Solutions is a byproduct of my work at Stanford.

2. How was your experience in your industry different as a Nigerian-American?

Eneyo: There’s an increasing interest within the industry around solving energy challenges in Nigeria and, more broadly, emerging markets. The local knowledge is often an overlooked critical asset in doing so.

My previous work in the industry, and in emerging markets, shows that it’s often non-technical issues that cause projects to be delayed or fail. The intimate local knowledge allows for an understanding of people’s values, culture and thought processes, and that can better inform how we solve problems and how we deliver solutions. This has certainly been the case with Shyft Power Solutions.

3. What approach did you take when raising money for your business?

Eneyo: In the early stage, I leveraged grants and non-dilutive capital, given the longer and more capital-intensive development timeline for building industrial-grade hardware. We also raised traditional venture capital, as well as funding from strategic corporate investors.

The corporate venture capitalists played a key role in our fundraising strategy, as they often had more market knowledge and connections, which complemented the primarily U.S.-based traditional venture capital. And Shyft Power Solutions received $100,000 in seed capital through our participation in the Ameren Accelerator this year.​

4. How did your experience with the 2019 Ameren Accelerator program advance/benefit your business? What’s your relationship with Ameren and the accelerator now that the program has ended?

Eneyo: The Ameren Accelerator, alongside the Ameren employees who served on champion teams as mentors, provided important technical and business development expertise that offered valuable and unique insight into how Shyft’s platform can add value to utilities at scale. Part of our longer-term planning required Shyft to have better insight into utilities, and we were able to leverage Ameren in the process.

Although the accelerator has ended, my team and I have remained in contact with many of our technical champions, who still provide advice and references. Additionally, the accelerator program team has remained supportive, still introducing us to valuable startup resources.​

5. How do you see the energy technology industry changing? What changes would you like to make?

Eneyo: In emerging markets, there will be a leapfrog over traditional central energy infrastructures; instead, we will see digitization and decentralization of energy infrastructure that may work alongside whatever central grid is available. The flexible and intelligent use of distributed energy resources will be necessary to make this possible, and Shyft is developing the technology to do so.

I want to see clean, reliable, and affordable energy for all — urban and rural — and want to see energy demands being met by rapidly growing emerging markets. I’m excited to be leading an organization that’s at the forefront of this energy transition in markets like Nigeria.

By Andrew ThomasFounder, Skybell Video Doorbell

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Source: How This Entrepreneur Raised $1 Million and Is Leading an Energy Revolution Before Age 30

Three Conclusions From The 2019 Berkshire Shareholders Meeting

A Berkshire Hathaway shareholder arranges her shopping next to a large drawing of Chairman and CEO Warren Buffett, during a shareholders shopping event in Omaha, Neb., Friday, May 3, 2019, one day before Berkshire Hathaway's annual shareholders meeting. An estimated 40,000 people are expected in town for the event, where Chairman and CEO Warren Buffett and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger will preside over the meeting and spend hours answering questions. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

A Berkshire Hathaway shareholder arranges her shopping next to a large drawing of Chairman and CEO Warren Buffett, during a shareholders shopping event in Omaha, Neb., Friday, May 3, 2019, one day before Berkshire Hathaway’s annual shareholders meeting. An estimated 40,000 people are expected in town for the event, where Chairman and CEO Warren Buffett and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger will preside over the meeting and spend hours answering questions. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Berkshire Hathaway’s shareholders’ meeting as in past years yielded various insights on Warren Buffett’s and Charlie Munger’s insights on the markets, politics, tech stockspast mistakes and many other topics.

Further Buybacks On The Cards

It should come as no surprise that Buffett and Munger are considering further buybacks of Berkshire stock. With a large, and growing, cash pile and limited deal opportunities to date, they are likely to use cash to repurchase Berkshire shares as the fallback option. In fact, the pair used answers to certain questions, such as regarding Brexit in the U.K. to remind the audience that they are very willing to make acquisitions in Europe should they see the right deal at the right price. They feel that Berkshire is typically considered for deals in the U.S.. Yet, internationally they have more work to do to have Berkshire in consideration for a large business sale. Still, the emphasis on buybacks suggests that there is little in the deal pipeline for now, though of course that could change quickly. Buffett and Munger would love to see more attractive deals, but absent attractive opportunities, stock buybacks are the default.

Another Bite Out Of Apple?

Buffett and Munger were both very positive on current holding Apple, and Apple CEO Tim Cook was also at the event. It seemed clear that Buffett was quite willing to up his Apple stake at the right price.

Various objections such as potential regulation of Apple’s app store were raised in questions, though Buffett didn’t dismiss those concerns entirely, he mentioned that what has hurt the most is that the stock has gone up. That, the CEO’s presence and the fact that Buffett didn’t go out of his way to make the detailed bull case on Apple all suggest he make be angling to up his stake at the right price, even though Apple is currently Berkshire’s second largest public holding behind Coca-Cola.

A More Flexible Approach To Value Investing

Over his lifetime, Buffett’s investing approach has evolved and it continues to. In his early years, Buffett loved buying so-called cigar butt stocks, as popularized by his early mentor Ben Graham. This means stocks that may have been poor companies, but were trading well below the value of assets that could be sold realizing a profit for investors. Such deals are harder to come by now. As such Buffett looks more for great businesses at reasonable prices, a direction that Munger has clearly prodded him in. However, now Buffett talks of value investing in broader more creative terms, such that any stock where the likely expected cashflows exceed the price can be attractive, even if not cheap in on the traditional metrics and ratios associated with value investing.

So though Buffett’s approach continued to be refined, its core principles remain the same in looking for great businesses at attractive prices with sound management in place. In reviewing Buffett and Munger’s comments, one is left with the feeling that they are seeing few bargains in this market and buybacks paired with watching and waiting for certain key holdings such as Apple to fall so they might add more is the current strategy. Aside, from the comments at the meeting, the fact that the company is sitting on over $100 billion of cash and short-term securities at the end of 2018 reinforces that Buffett and Munger aren’t seeing the opportunities they would hope for in the current environment.

Articles educational only, not intended as investment advice.

Follow @simonwmoore on Twitter. Simon is Chief Investment Officer at Moola, and author of Digital Wealth (2015) and Strategic Project Portfolio Management (2009).

Source: Three Conclusions From The 2019 Berkshire Shareholders Meeting

A Few Thoughts For Entrepreneurs Wrestling With Depression – Chris Myers

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This has been a hard week for those of us who care deeply about depression and the people who wrestle with it.

Both entrepreneur/designer Kate Spade and chef/TV personality Anthony Bourdain took their own lives this week, leaving many to wonder why people who seemed to have it all would go to such lengths.

If I’ve learned anything during my entrepreneurial journey, it’s that people who have ambition, vision, and big dreams tend to suffer from what author Nassir Ghaemi calls “A first-rate madness.” The genius is often offset by battles with personal demons.

That there is a link between creativity and mental illness is known to some extent, details regarding that link are mostly unknown.

Entrepreneurs are, if nothing else, creators. They thrive on the unknown and live to create something out of nothing. With that drive, however, comes an increased risk of depression and mental illness.

While I don’t claim to know precisely what happened in these particular cases, I do know that the stresses of living a high-profile, creative, or entrepreneurial can take their toll on people, both physically and emotionally.

I want to be very clear about one thing. I don’t have all the answers. Like everyone else, I’m just trying to find my way in a complicated and challenging world.

I have, however, learned a few things along my personal entrepreneurial and creative journey that have helped me navigate challenging situations, particularly in regards to stress, anxiety, and depression.

Let’s be honest about the difference between mental illness and circumstance

Perhaps the most important lesson I’ve learned is that there is a stark difference between mental illness and the shared human response to challenging circumstances with which we are forced to deal.

For so long there was a stigma associated with mental illness, and people were afraid to entertain the idea that they might be suffering from its effects. Fortunately, this stigma is starting to give way to a more honest and understanding view of the matter. Whether you’re an entrepreneur or not, you have to ask yourself “Have I suffered from panic, anxiety, or depression my whole life, or is this something new?”

If you find that your feelings and sufferings are part of a larger pattern, please don’t be afraid to talk to a medical professional.

In many cases, anxiety and other symptoms are biological. No matter what you try to do, or how you try to cope, you won’t be able to run away from the underlying biological problem. There are, fortunately, solutions and treatments out there that can help.

If what you’re experiencing is relatively new for you, there’s a reasonable chance that it is mostly circumstantial. This is where I can offer some insight, having dealt with this type of emotional stress firsthand.

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Keep things in perspective

A few years ago, Business Insider published a great article about the depression epidemic in the startup community. According to the article, only 7% of the general population report suffering from depression, but a whopping 30% of founders report dealing with its effects.

That statistic is staggering but entirely believable.

Entrepreneurship is an intensely personal journey, and it’s incredibly difficult to separate your identity from the business that you’re trying to create. Soon, business setbacks (of which there are many) seem like personal setbacks, and depression can quickly take root.

The key is always to strive to keep things in perspective. Life, like business, is a journey full of ups and downs.

When talking to entrepreneurs and other creatives going through tough times, I often encourage them to think back to high school. For most of us, there were moments in our high school lives that seemed to be monumentally crucial that in retrospect seem childish.

At the time, of course, the pain and anxiety that you experienced were real and raw. However, the more distance you gain from the situation, the less painful it becomes.

While the problems that you’re facing right here and right now may seem insurmountable, it’s important to realize these too will pass and fade in time.

Entrepreneurs have to accept the fact that the odds are stacked against their success. Most new business ventures fail, and even those that are eventually successful take a long time to get off the ground.

Setbacks will outnumber successes, and there’s a good chance that most days will be stressful. That’s the game we chose to play and the ability to embrace these realities is what makes us entrepreneurs.

Still, when challenges pile up, it’s easy to feel like the world is ending and that we’re failures. I recently had lunch with a good friend who was in the process of shuttering his third startup in seven years.

During our conversation, I reminded him that in his brief career to date, he’s accomplished more than the vast majority of people do in decades.

His pedigree and experience put him in the top one percent of people in his age group, and, as a result, his opportunities are vast. Sure, the latest venture didn’t work out, but he can and will live to fight another day.

Wherever you’re at this point in your life, there is an excellent chance that your current endeavor will not be your last. In fact, many of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world hit their stride on the second or third attempt.

Consider the case of Mark Cuban. Before he struck it big by selling his business to Yahoo, Cuban had a string of failures.  After failing as a cook, carpenter, and even a waiter he remarked, “I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter how many times you failed. You only have to be right once. I tried to sell powdered milk. I was an idiot lots of times, and I learned from them all.”

The lesson here is that there are second (and third and fourth) acts in life, and it’s important to remember that whenever you encounter failure.

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Don’t be afraid to get help

I’m fortunate in the sense that I have a fantastic support network I can call on when I need help. My family and friends are always there when I need them, whether it’s to listen to my struggles or to lend a hand.

Not everyone is as lucky. Entrepreneurs need to be able to reach out and get help when they need it. This can be difficult in a world where everyone feels the need to be “crushing it” all the time. Asking for help can be seen as a sign of weakness, which leads to people merely keeping their difficulties to themselves.

We in the entrepreneurial and creative communities need to change this mentality. People should feel free to get help without the fear of judgment, and it’s going to take a few strong influencers to initiate the change.

I know a few people in the industry who care about this deeply, including Structure Capital (a team of high-profile venture investors based out of San Francisco), but more are needed. There are good people out there who want to help. It’s just a matter of having the courage to reach out.

There will be bumps, setbacks, and even catastrophic failures on any worthwhile journey, but remember that you’re not alone. Keep your challenges in perspective and live to fight another day.

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