Gemcorp In Angola

27 January 2022 • London

Atanas [00:00:00] Angola is one of the most interesting countries with incredibly friendly great people, people that won their independence after 40 years of civil war in 2002 and that they're so determined to rebuild their country.

Atanas [00:00:19] My name is Atanas. I'm the founder and chairman of Gemcorp.

Felipe [00:00:23] I'm Felipe Berliner. I'm the head of structuring of Gemcorp. and I'm one of the founding partners of the firm.

Felipe [00:00:29] So the first time I went to Angola was in 2007. I was then with a U.S. based investment bank. That's where we started by the usual way that bankers approached by going to the various ministries, trying to get to know the people got to know the banking system, the corporations.

Felipe [00:00:48] Back in 2007, I was working in the emerging markets desk here in London. You have the people covering the Middle East. You had people covering Eastern Europe.

Felipe [00:00:56] There was pretty much no one covering Portuguese speaking countries. And after doing a series of deals in Nigeria and the Anglophone countries in Africa, I decided to venture into the Portuguese speaking countries of Angola and Mozambique and was in Angola that I found a lot of opportunities on where to develop the business.

Felipe [00:01:14] It was only five years from the end of the Civil War for the country, and the country was in the mood of growing and leaving the past behind. And it was all about business, at least on the ground. Internationally, there was very little knowledge about Angola, very little knowledge of what was happening in the country, except for the oil companies.

Super: Incredible Social Change

Atanas [00:01:37] That's one of the most amazing features of the country that the country is heavily exposed to oil exports. It is the second largest oil exporter in sub-Sahara Africa after Nigeria. It has had the very bumpy ride with the oil prices during the last 10 years. And during that time, actually, we saw a real social challenge there that the country was facing for lack of food and lack of pharmaceutical farm items.

Atanas [00:02:07] And we were asked by the government, is there a way where we could help and intervene and find a way to help with the shortages? And that's where I would say one of the most amazing features of Gemcorp our tenacity, our ability to think out of the box at a time when every bank, almost every bank globally was shutting their lines for the country and the water was mostly impressed by how the country was that from 2002.

Atanas [00:02:37] After the long civil war, GDP of the country was around five or six billion dollars. By 2014 15, the GDP was $150 billion. It's one of the most unprecedented economic growth that any country has witnessed.

Felipe [00:02:50] But the population of Angola is a very young population, very low average age in the country, and that represents the future. Right. If you have a population that young everyone is thinking of the future and how can they improve their lives?

Felipe [00:03:06] And if improves your life, you're going to improve the common good and you'll see that not only on the young entrepreneurs and we deal with and we partner with some spectacular individuals in a country that that we're really impressed with the things they have built and what they have achieved coming from what they did, but also in the public sector.

Felipe [00:03:24] You see this new generation of people that are in very senior positions that's really making a difference.

Atanas [00:03:31] And when we started doing business in Angola, when for the first time, I really then started to understand that what I'm seeing in Angola actually lived through to a certain degree, and I have seen and experienced in Bulgaria, unfortunately at Bulgaria at the time, I had no means to influence or do anything.

Atanas [00:03:50] Now, with the means that we have with our business, we saw a clear opportunity that with relatively little financial impact of monetary impact, you could cause a lot of improvement for a lot of positive change.

Super: Local Presence. Strong Relationships

Felipe [00:04:05] I believe that's one of the key elements of the strategy that we have or that the key countries that we decide to invest, we actually on the ground, right? Instead of being opportunistic, we'd rather have clients that we do repeated transactions over the years with deep relationship rather than opportunistic transactions you hand them.

Atanas [00:04:25] Obviously Gemcorp is not the only emerging markets manager or a commodity forum out there, but the key differentiator for Gemcorp is that we are one of the very few ones that actually have our boots on the ground.

Atanas [00:04:39] We don't care only about the financial return that we make, which is quite an attractive return measure to the risk that we are taking and managing by investing our money. But the most rewarding part of the investment is actually the fact that you know that with every dollar that we invest, there is a real impact behind this.

Atanas [00:05:00] The Cabinda refinery that we're building in Angola, it's a very ambitious, very large private investment that we're doing. It's almost a billion-dollar investment. It's a real game changer for the local economy. From a financial perspective, but also, it's a real game changer for the local society because it's going to create more than 2000 direct and indirect jobs.

Super: A Lasting Impact

Felipe [00:05:26] I care about every place where we do business. Every place with the business, we do it with the same level of professions. The difference is that the level of relationship that you managed to achieve in that country over this 10, 15 years that we have been on the ground doing business with the country through different generations of professionals, it obviously makes a difference when you're making an investment.

Atanas [00:05:48] One thing that personally drives me and I believe that also my key partners in the firm share as a vision is that we really want to make a sustainable impact in Africa and in the countries where we invest and operate, creating industries, creating schools, creating universities to be able to educate the future of this continent.

Atanas [00:06:13] And I really think what will make me incredibly happy, incredibly satisfying, is to look back in 5, 10 years time and say, Look, with Gemcorp. we've created millions of jobs in those countries where we work, and I think that will be priceless.

AT GEMCORP, we share a vision. Creating a sustainable impact in the countries we invest in is integral to our mission. We do this with our boots on the ground, working directly with the people of Angola since 2007.

With 10-15 years of experience on the ground in Angola, we have a continued relationship with the people within these communities. We will continue to nurture this relationship, having a sustainable impact in Angola and creating opportunities for generations to come.

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