AfrAsia upbeat about Zim

HARARE - Mauritius-based financial group, AfrAsia Bank Limited (ABL), says it is keen on pursuing further investments in Zimbabwe.

This comes as the institution upped its stake in AfrAsia Kingdom Zimbabwe Limited (AKZL) — formerly Kingdom Financial Holdings Limited — after acquiring founding director Nigel Chanakira’s 30 percent shareholding in an equity-swap deal.

ABL already held a 35 percent shareholding, acquired in 2012 in a $9,5 million deal.

Kamben Padayachy, one of ABL’s founding executives, said the group “has been targeting the southern African country for some time now.”

“We believe a lot in the future of Zimbabwe because it is among the top ten growing African economies and there are opportunities for developing further,” he said.

Under Chanakira’s exit deal announced last Friday, he would immediately step down as a director although he takes with him the “Kingdom” trademark.

Meanwhile, ABL also announced plans to raise additional liquidity support through a $20 million rights issue while Kingdom Bank would be renamed AfrAsia Bank Limited and the group rebranded as “AfrAsia
Zimbabwe Holdings Limited”.

The group’s chief executive James Benoit said the time was ripe for a major restructuring of the financial services group.

“The timing is now appropriate for us to unify the brand under which our Zimbabwean operations are managed, and we are confident that the AfrAsia brand will soon come to represent an innovative, disruptive and highly professional banking franchise in Zimbabwe as it already does in Mauritius and South Africa,” he said.

“Chanakira has played a pivotal role in the development of our franchise in Zimbabwe and has been instrumental in developing the plans for the restructuring that is now underway.”

“I am satisfied with the outcome of this restructuring exercise and confident AfrAsia will now take up the banking, microfinance and asset management business to new heights both in Zimbabwe and the region for the best of customers and the industry,” said Benoit.

Chanakira and partners established Kingdom Bank in 1994 and listed the group on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange in 1999 through a merger with The Discount Company of Zimbabwe.

The bank also expanded into the region before merging with listed leisure and retail group Meikles Limited in 2007 to create one of the country’s largest companies in Kingdom Meikles.

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