Luxury car dealer reaches agreement over millions owed

 In Companies, News

A Portuguese luxury car importer and dealer who was once one of the country’s most influential businessmen has been forced to sell his company after owing millions to Portuguese banks.

João Pereira Coutinho, who owned a private executive jet, a helicopter and an island off Angra dos Reis in Brazil had left a multimillion euro trail of debt to several bank lenders with the already troubled bank Novo Banco suffering over €200 million in losses.
However, according to a statement sent to the Portuguese market securities commission CMVM this week, an agreement has been reached in recent days with several Portuguese banks including BCP, Novo Banco, BPI and Caixa Geral de Depósitos to pardon a €116 million debt and wipe the slate clean.
The banks will also issue bank guarantees so that his car import company SIVA – the distributor for the Volkswagen group in Portugal – can continue to operate under the new ownership of Porsche (VW).
The move comes after Porsche announced at the end of April that it had signed an agreement with SIVA, a subsidiary of Coutinho’s main car import holding SAG-SGPS SA, to purchase Coutinho’s import company which brought Volkswagen, Audi, Skodas, Bentleys and Lamborghinis to Portugal as well as selling them in a network of 11 car showroom concessions in Lisbon and Porto.
“We are very satisfied with the agreement made with Porsche Holdings Salzburg (PHS); the prospect of us entering the largest European car distribution group means that our organisation and the brands it represents can face the future with optimism” the CEO of SIVA, Pedro de Almeida told the Portuguese news agency Lusa in a statement.
And in a parallel statement issued to the Securities Commission CMVM, SAG, headed by João Pereira Coutinho, states: “we have reached an agreement with Porsche Holding Salzburg (PHS) (in turn owned by VW) and the financial institutions that stood as loan guarantors for the SAG Group.”
In 2007, before the onset of the global economic crisis, Coutinho had been considered the fifth wealthiest man in Portugal.
His business focus was on the retail of Volkswagen cars although in the past he had businesses in Brazil in areas such as tourism and real estate.
But that year, directors at Portugal’s private bank BCP ordered a audit to look into the terms and conditions over unusually high loans to shareholders and clients which carried a high degree of risk.
Luxury car dealer João Pereira Coutinho was one of those cases specifically being investigated by the bank as one of the shareholders who used his power and position to arrange risky financial loans for his business activities.
In this he was not alone. Other BCP shareholders such as art collector Joe Berardo and entrepreneur Nuno Vasconcellos among others also got huge loans so that they could increase their shareholdings in the same bank and in other companies.
As the financial crisis hit Portugal hard from 2011, the luxury car business suffered and with its Coutinho saw a dramatic fall in sales for Porsches and other top-of-the-range vehicles.
By 2013 Pereira Coutinho’s holding company was one of the biggest bank debtors according to the Bank of Portugal with total debts of €704 million owed to national banks such as Caixa Geral de Depósitos, Banco Comercial Português, BPI and BES.
His private island was put up for sale for €14 million in 2018 and his Falcon private jet and helicopter were also sold.
Coutinho sold his largest company, car importer SIVA to Porsche for €1 in return for clearing €370 million of his company’s bank debts.