History of the Group
Foundation by Alfredo da Silva
Alfredo da Silva began his career in the Companhia Aliança Fabril, where he was a shareholder. He came up with the idea of merging this company with União Fabril, where he also held stock, thereby creating the Companhia União Fabril (CUF). Alfredo da Silva’s strong humanistic beliefs decisively marked the philosophy and development of the CUF group. CUF’s social work was a pioneer in the Portuguese business world, at a time when such concerns were practically non-existent on the part of the entrepreneurs and the State could do very little or nothing about them.
Entry into the Casa José Henriques Totta and foundation of Tabaqueira
By purchasing stock and reinforcing the bank’s equity, the CUF group gained a foothold in the Portuguese banking sector. In the same decade, in 1927, Tabaqueira was created.
The Second World War and establishment of Companhia de Seguros Império, an insurance company
During the Second World War, CUF played an active role by repairing ships and building vessels for both national and foreign fleets (in Rocha Conde d’Óbidos, in Lisbon), and filling in the transportation gap with the Companhia Geral fleet.
With its usual business acumen, the Império insurance company was started, which came to be ranked first among the Portuguese insurance companies.
Alfredo da Silva died in 1942. He left to the heirs a project in progress, with a motto that summed up his philosophy: “More and Better”.
Opening of the CUF Hospital
Known today as the CUF Infante Santo Hospital, it was set up to serve the 80 mil employees and relatives of the CUF group.
Foundation of Soponata
The CUF group was one of the founders of Soponata, through its participation in the Companhia Nacional de Navegação and Sociedade Geral de Indústria, Comércio e Transportes, filling in the gap in fuel transportation in the country.
Foundation of Lisnave
The creation of Lisnave, which became one of the largest shipyard managers in the world, follows on from the shipbuilding and repair activity developed since 1937 at the Rocha do Conde d’ Óbidos Shipyard. The company remained in the José de Mello Group until 2000.
Banco Totta & Açores, the fourth largest Portuguese bank, was founded as a result of a merger between Banco Totta, Aliança and Banco Lisboa & Açores. At the same time, Lisnave opened the large Margueira shipyard, in Almada.
CUF reached its heyday in the 1970’s. Its business areas ranged from the financial to the chemical, textile to mineral ore, food processing to healthcare, shipbuilding to environmental protection sectors.
CUF became a true centre of learning, training part of the Portuguese business elite and fostering technological development, not only within the Group but also across the whole country.
25 April 1974 and nationalization of the CUF group
The Group, that had survived two revolutions, three political systems, two world wars and scores of crises, did not survive the revolution started in April 1974. In demanding the resignation for political reasons of the Board of Directors in September of that year, Lisvane’s blue collar workers set the tone of the difficult times ahead.
On 14 March 1975, the provisional government nationalized the entire banking and insurance sector in Portugal.
In October of the same year, the nationalization of CUF was enacted into law by means of Decree Law no. 532/75. The CUF group’s more than 180 companies, in such diverse sectors as chemical products, textiles, mineral ore, food processing, healthcare, shipbuilding and the environment, came under official State control. With over 110 mil employees, the CUF group amounted to approximately 5% of the Portuguese GDP of the time. Thus, the group was forced to suspend its 80-years old operations by the State’s imposition.
Constitution of José de Mello holding
José Manuel de Mello, grandson of Alfredo da Silva and son of D. Manuel de Mello, began reconstructing the group as an autonomous entity true to the motto of the founder: “More and Better”.
Establishment of the Banco Mello
The Banco Mello started in 1991 with the purchase of Companhia Financeira Portuguesa by the José de Mello Group.
Purchase of the Companhia de Seguros Império
Acquisition of the Companhia de Seguros Império in a reprivatization process, a company that was incorporated in 1941 and which was part of the CUF Group until 1974.
Purchase of Soponata
Acquisition of the majority of the share capital of Soponata, which resumed its activity as a reference company in the outstanding marine
Purchase of Quimigal
Acquisition of Quimigal in a process of reprivatization, a company that resulted from the nationalization in 1975 of companies in the chemical area of the CUF Group. By taking control of Quimigal, the José de Mello Group started to manage the chemical industry business, again under the CUF brand
Changes in the business portfolio of the José de Mello group
More than 100 years after its foundation, the José de Mello group entered a new business cycle.
Brisa and Efacec became part of the stock portfolio of the group’s holdings. Lisnave was sold off. José de Mello Residências and Services was established. In the same year, Banco Mello merged with Banco Comercial Português (BCP), the largest Portuguese private bank.
Opening of the Hospital CUF Descobertas
This healthcare facility, amounting to an investment of approximately 35 million euros, was the first of a CUF Healthcare facilities network that spread across the entire country.
Purchase of Elnosa in Galicia, Spain
The purchase of this company dedicated to producing and selling chemical products reinforced the José de Mello group’s strong presence in the international chemical sector.
Divestiture of Soponata and Finertec
Concluding divestiture processes in sectors where it was not possible to add value enabled investments in new opportunities and businesses with a future.
Public Takeover Bid on Efacec
In partnership with the Têxtil Manuel Gonçalves Group, the José de Mello Group launched a public takeover bid on the share of Efacec’s capital that was not held by the two reference shareholders.
Stake in EDP
Purchase of a 2% stake in EDP – Energy de Portugal- equity, whereby the José de Mello group became one of the reference shareholders in one of the largest and most important Portuguese companies.
Partnership with the Quirón Hospital group
José de Mello Health entered into an Iberian partnership with the Quirón Hospital Group, a renowned Spanish private group in health care provision.
Divestiture of the stake in BCP and reinforcement in EDP
Divestiture of almost the entire stake in the BCP, amounting to 3,05% of its equity, and reinforcement of its stake in EDP, to approximately 5%.
Divestiture of the fertilizers business
In 2008 the fertilizers business held by CUF was sold off.
José de Mello Health opens new units and ceases management of Amadora Sintra Hospital
José de Mello Health inaugurated the CUF Cascais Clinic and a diagnosis and treatment institute in Oporto. On December 31st, the management of Amadora Sintra hospital by a public-private partnership – in place since 1995 – was terminated.
Took on management the future Braga Hospital
José de Mello Health signed an agreement to build and manage the future Hospital de Braga with the State, under the public-private partnerships schemes. Two years later, the Group also took on management of the Vila Franca de Xira Hospital.
Public Takeover Bid on Brisa
On 29 March, the José de Mello group together with the Arcus fund launched a Public Takeover Bid on the entire share capital of Brisa. José de Mello became the largest shareholder of the company with a 57,3% of voting rights.
Changes in José de Mello Health
Sale of the stake in the Quirón Hospital Group to the Doughty Hanson investment fund, with a view to focusing in Portugal by expanding the hospitals and clinics network.
Constitution of Efacec Power Solutions (EPS)
This company brought together in a single entity some of the main business sectors of the Group: energy, environment and transportation.
Future Hospital CUF in Viseu
Launching of the future Hospital CUF Viseu, as a result of a partnership between José de Mello Health and the Visabeira Group.
Divestiture of stake in EDP
Divestiture of stake in EDP, which strengthened the Group’s financial capacity with a view to pursuing the development and growth of its affiliates.
Creation of the Tagus Academic Network for Knowledge
This joint venture between the José de Mello Health and Universidade Nova de Lisboa – Nova Medical School sought to promote research and teaching in the health care sector.
Development of Brisa
Divestiture, by Brisa, of 30% of Brisa Concessão Rodoviária (BCR) – Road Concession – to Portuguese- Brazilian investors, in a clear acknowledgment of the quality and soundness of the company. Reinforcing Brisa’s position in the mobility sector and ambitious investment in promoting the Via Verde brand, as the trademark of all Brisa’s operations.
Development of the maintenance business by means of ATM – Assistência Total em Manutenção (Total Maintenance Assistance)
Sale of 65% of Efacec Power Solutions (EPS) stock to the Angolan entrepreneur Isabel dos Santos, as part of an ambitious restructuring of Efacec which led to new ventures in the maintenance and renewable energy sectors outside the scope of operations of EPS.
Development of Brisa
New Via Verde features and a new company to operate service areas. Parallel to that, beginning of the process of disposal of the Northwest Parkway concession, in the United States, carried out in 2017.
Expansion of the network of CUF hospitals and clinics
José de Mello Saúde continues to expand its hospital and clinic network under the CUF brand, with the commencement of the construction of CUF Tejo Hospital and the expansion works of CUF Descobertas Hospital, both in Lisbon, as well as with the opening of a hospital in Viseu and of a clinic in Almada.
Launch Grow Program
In 2017, the José de Mello group entered into a new stage of innovation by launching Grow, an accelearation program for startups.
Development of Brisa
New Via Verde features and a new brand A-to-B, to support the internationalization of Brisa. Inauguration, in June, of the first service area managed by Brisa with the Colibri brand (Alcácer do Sal, at A2), which represents a new concept focused on the customer. Presentation, in September, of a carsharing service for Lisbon, in partnership with DriveNow.
Expansion of the network of CUF hospitals and clinics
Opening of a new CUF clinic in São João da Madeira and announcement of new hospital units in Sintra, Coimbra and Leiria.
Launching of Bondalti
The business area of the chemical industry of the José de Mello Group changes its corporate identity, assuming, as of the end of May, the Bondalti brand, which succeeds the historical CUF.
This change is the culmination of a process of strategic repositioning of the business and marks a new cycle of growth and internationalization.
The Volunteer Program of José de Mello Group
The Volunteer Program of José de Mello Group is formed by employees, family members, members of the family José de Mello and former employees of all the participating companies. Created in 2010, with the support of Amélia de Mello Foundation, the program reflects the commitment of socially responsible actions, by helping to solve social problems in the communities where we are integrated. By the end of 2019, the Volunteer Program had more than 370 volunteers and continued to give support to 13 partner institutions located predominantly in Lisbon and Porto.
CUF becomes the single brand in healthcare
When celebrating the 75th anniversary of the first hospital, the José de Mello Saúde brand was replaced by the single brand «CUF». This new chapter began on July 26th with the main purpose of reinforcing the recognition of CUF among the Portuguese people as the healthcare brand of the future.
Opening of the CUF Tejo Hospital
The CUF Tejo Hospital started its activity in a phased way at the end of September, when the outpatient and imaging areas started its operation. Designed to prevent, diagnose and treat the diseases of the future, CUF Tejo Hospital replaces CUF Infante Santo Hospital and is located in the Lisbon area of Alcântara.
José de Mello Group sells 40% of Brisa
The José de Mello Group sold about 40% of Brisa’s voting rights to a consortium of international investors. The agreement was concluded in an economical context of great adversity, due to the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic, and set a new strategic partnership between the purchasing consortium and the José de Mello Group, which retained a stake of reference in Brisa, representing 17% of the voting rights.
A renewed ambition for a new cycle of growth
In 2021, José de Mello Group changed its executive leadership with the appointment of Salvador de Mello as Chief Executive Officer. The core values of the José de Mello Group were translated into a new Purpose, and the development of a new growth strategy was initiated.