Zimbabwe to review Implats sale of $971 mln stake in local unit

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By Zimbabwe Investor on November 1, 2013. No Comments

Zimbabwe’s government will review a plan by South Africa’s Impala Platinum to sell control of its Zimplats unit to local black investors for $971 million, Zimplats said on Thursday.

Implats, the world’s second-largest platinum miner, in January agreed to sell a majority stake in Zimplats to local investors under the controversial “indigenisation” programme championed by President Robert Mugabe.

Mugabe, following his re-election in July as Zimbabwe’s long-serving president, replaced the minister in charge of the indigenisation drive, which seeks to give local blacks majority stakes in foreign firms operating in the country.

In a statement accompanying its July-September results, Zimplats said Zimbabwe’s new indigenisation minister, Francis Nhema, would review the agreement as well as discuss Harare’s plans to reposess half of the company’s mining claims.

“Following the installation of a new government, the company’s indigenisation plan will now be reviewed by the new Minister of Indigenisation,” Zimplats said.

“These discussions will also include further engagement on the previously announced land acquisition by government.”

It was not immediately clear why the government was undertaking the review.

Nhema could not be reached for comment on Thursday.

The Zimplats deal is Zimbabwe’s largest local ownership transaction and was viewed as a major scalp for Mugabe’s controversial black economic empowerment push, which was the centrepiece of his re-election campaign.

Implats, together with Aquarius Platinum, have also agreed to sell a 51 percent stake in their Zimbabwean joint venture Mimosa mine to locals in a $550 million deal to meet affirmative action targets.

Zimplats reported a 77 percent jump in operating profit to $40 million during the quarter, thanks to increased revenue from sales.