Meikles not keen on banking

HARARE - Listed retail and hospitality group Meikles Limited (Meikles) says it has no plans to venture into the banking industry again.

The group, which recently diversified into mining and beauty sector, is planning to restructure and has once been involved in the financial sector.

In 2008, Meikles merged with the Nigel Chanakira-founded Kingdom Financial Holdings Limited — now AfrAsia Zimbabwe Holdings Limited (AZHL) — to form Kingdom Meikles Africa Limited.

However, the deal collapsed after about 18 months due to shareholder differences, resulting in the two demerging.

Last week, Meikles executive director Mark Wood dismissed market reports that his group was courting AZHL, with plans to reinvest into its banking subsidiary AfrAsia Bank Zimbabwe.

“Meikles has not entered into negotiations with AfrAsia or any other bank,” he told businessdaily.

He added that the restructuring exercise “will be undertaken once Meikles is able to trade the Treasury Bills and enhance its financial flexibility”.

Meikles was recently issued with $49,6 million Treasury Bills by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe as part payment towards a $90 million debt owed since 1998.

But, Meikles has been struggling to liquidate the paper due to an unattractive two percent interest rate.

“The group will then be able to grow shareholder value through measures that will promote the underlying value of Group assets to fair value. The group has been unable to embark on this objective (restructuring) until now due to its inability to access its funds.”

The group said “the exact nature of the restructuring from both a financial and organisational implication is yet to be determined, but it will occur with the participation of substantial expertise and possible funding”.

Meanwhile, Meikles chairperson John Moxon said the group was in talks with a potential foreign investor who wants to inject $25 million into the company’s gold mine in Bulawayo.

The group, which holds 49 percent shares in subsidiary Meikles Centar Mining Limited — a joint venture with Centar Mining, a Guernsey-based investment group created by former JP Morgan banker, Ian Hannam has been planning to expand its mining portfolio by acquiring a 51 percent stake in a group of gold mines in Matabeleland at an estimated cost of $3 million.

“We have got some visitors right now in Bulawayo they may commit up to $25 million for the gold mine,” Moxon said, adding that the investors were from Eastern Europe but declined to give more details.

Meikles has also indicated that it has plans to revive its chrome mining venture soon after the company had put the project on hold after government had banned all chrome exports in the country in favour of value addition.

Moxon said chrome mining has been cited as one of the key drivers for Zimbabwe’s economic recovery and the group plans to exploit the opportunity.

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