Reckitt Benkiser awaits indigenisation nod

HARARE - The local unit of London Stock Exchange-listed Reckitt Benkiser plc (RB) says it is still awaiting feedback on its indigenisation plan submitted to government.

Although RB Zimbabwe managing director Agrippa Mandiwona could not be drawn to revealing the compliance plan, he hinted the world’s largest household cleaning products producer and major consumer healthcare and personal products manufacturer was considering listing on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange as part of its compliance plan to relinquish a majority shareholding to locals.

Mandiwona said it was premature to discuss intricate details of the proposed agreement as it is already in the hands of government and awaiting approval.

“RB is currently owned by Reckit Benckiser plc, the global company. This is actually a public company that is traded on the stock market, but the only thing is that it’s not listed on the ZSE so basically it’s not owned by a single individual,” he said.

“Basically what we have done now is to look at how do we then come in on indigenisation and empowerment in Zimbabwe because that’s not normally the model for us having multiple listings, but we have submitted and we are awaiting approval,” added Mandiwona.

The RB managing director said the company was in constant consultation with Saviour Kasukuwere’s Indigenisation ministry as well as the David Chapfika-led National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Board for a win-win situation.

In terms of government regulations which were gazetted in November last year to guide compliance of manufacturing firms with the empowerment regulations, foreign-owned manufacturing companies are required to relinquish 26 percent of their shareholding by end of November this year and to have ceded at least 51 percent to Zimbabwean locals by 2015.

The regulations compel the foreign-owned manufacturing firms to release 10 percent to indigenous Zimbabweans in the second year, 10 percent in the third year and five percent in the final year.

Speaking on operations, Mandiwona said RB’s business has been doing well after surviving a decade-long economic stagnation and hyperinflation.

“With industry capacity utilisation averaging 60 percent, the company forecast growth as consumers remain loyal to our brands,” the RB boss said.

He said the company currently had a staff compliment of just under 70 employees but varied to as high as 140 with seasonal employees.

Reckitt Benkiser plc was formed in 1999 by the merger of the UK-based Reckitt and Colman plc and the Netherlands-based Benckiser NV.

Reckitt Benckiser’s brands include dettol, strepsils, veet, air wick, calgon, clearasil, cillit bang, durex , vanish and had a market capitalisation of approximately $37,5 billion at the end of 2011.

The firm’s detol, harpic and Jik are its major brands in Zimbabwe. Earlier this year, the global firm announced a new strategy for continued outperformance, along with a new vision and purpose.

“Our vision is a world where people are healthier and live better. Our purpose is to make a difference by giving people innovative solutions for healthier lives and happier homes,” the company said.


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