A desert rose among thorny legal issues
As the woman in charge of everything legal at the Paratus Group, Ana Santos could be described as a desert rose in the legal world because she needs to adapt to environments and new challenges in an ever dynamic and evolving landscape. It’s an apt description considering that, in her spare time, Santos also happens to grow and develop new desert rose hybrids.
Santos is the Paratus Group’s Chief Legal Officer. She’s been with the group since 2016 and is based in Luanda, Angola. Having worked for many years in private banking in Europe, her knowledge of successfully handling intricate and critical international deals has honed her skills for dealing with complicated African countries’ laws amid daunting and complex legislation surrounding telecommunications regulations.
Paratus invests in its own infrastructure and has built expert teams in seven southern African countries that serve customers across the continent with a seamless quality network service. The group also has POPs (points of presence) in the USA, UK and Europe and provides satellite connectivity in over 35 African countries. Paratus is the landing partner for the Equiano subsea cable in Namibia and has built five internationally accredited data centres in three African countries.
A woman of many talents, Santos’s experience is especially weighty and is being increasingly brought to bear as the African telco embarks on its mission to transform Africa through excellent infrastructure and service. “Having worked for many years for a private bank in Europe, I was involved closely with major global financing deals. I now draw on that experience here at Paratus as the group is busy carving out new deals and cementing new partnerships in various African countries.”
Born and educated in Portugal and the UK respectively, with work experience in Europe, Asia and Africa, Santos is not only highly experienced and qualified, but also fluent in Portuguese and English, which has become indispensable to her. Santos has her work cut out as she matches her expert dual linguistic ability with an innate balancing act of understanding the requisite legal protection for a growing telco in Africa. She read law at a Lisbon University, became a member of the Portuguese Bar Association in 1994, undertook various post-graduate courses in Securities Law at the Lisbon Faculty of Law and was accredited for attending the Euromoney summer school for International Financial Law in 2004. Early on in her career, while at a private practice, she was part of the legal team that advised and drafted contracts between the Portuguese airline, TAP and Caterinpor. For 15 years, Santos was a lawyer with Finibanco, a private Portuguese bank, where she handled a multitude of complex legal projects including funds mergers, the establishment of a special account for securities markets investments and the transformation of Finibanco into a holding company.
For Paratus, Santos manages the legal processes for group restructuring, investment and shareholder agreements. She’s been intricately involved in all the legal issues for partnership deals such as the Equiano Cable Landing Station in Namibia and the OneWeb deal on the continent, as well as client and supplier contracts and the establishment of new operating companies within the group.
Santos is also busy consolidating procedures and processes across the group. “I am aiming to produce one single operating model and a full set of legal standards. That would be my legacy. I believe in developing a structured legal department with one central point, which links local in-house legal counsel for all the OpCos, across the Paratus Group. To achieve this legacy, I need to build up my team and create a system that can be used for decades. For me, that would be a great achievement. I believe strongly in being able to handle as much in-house as possible, as this way, you retain a strong vested interest and commitment to handling things consistently and properly.”
About the desert roses, Santos is almost bashful. As a busy mother of three, she found solace and calm in the garden and developed a passion for desert roses. Over the last few years, she has perfected her ability to cross-pollinate different varieties to produce seeds and seedlings to create new hybrids. Until recently, she was simply giving these creations away to friends, but it’s beginning to dawn on Santos that her new varieties are not only special but, as they bloom and flourish, are also deserving of some special attention. “I’m now going to give them special African names and register them officially.”