Reverse Barclays Zim sale - AAG

HARARE - Affirmative Action Group (AAG) has asked President Robert Mugabe and Indigenisation minister Patrick Zhuwao to reverse Barclays’ sale of its Zimbabwe bank to Malawi-listed First Merchant Bank (FMB).

The lobby group’s president, Chamu Chiwanza, yesterday told a news conference in the capital that the sale — part of the British lender’s broader exit from Africa to refocus on the United States and Britain — was in direct violation of the country’s indigenisation law.

Zimbabwe’s indigenisation policy requires that foreign-owned companies own no more than 49 percent in local firms.

“We have noted with great concern the events of the past weeks, the sale of Barclays Bank Zimbabwe (BBZ) to FMB. We as AAG strongly feel there is serious contempt and disregard of the law because the law is very clear that locals have the first right of refusal…

“We are making a public outcry that this deal must be interrogated, as AAG we would want it to be reversed. Surely, it must be reversed. We are saying to the policymakers they must tread very carefully, they are there at the expense of the people and we are looking at what they are doing very carefully… We welcome foreigners but not at our expense,” he said.

According to the deal hammered out by a team of lawyers, including London’s Norton Rose and Addington Chinake of Kantor & Immerman, FMB will hold a 42 percent stake, Barclays 10 percent until 2020 and other sitting shareholders will retain their 33 percent.

The deal — expected to complete in the third quarter of this year — also ruffled feathers at the bank, leaving the financial institution’s 700 employees moving to lobby government to block the bank’s takeover by Malawi’s FMB.

In their bid to block the sale, BBZ employees, reportedly led by managing director George Guvamatanga also had support of the State pension fund National Social Security Authority (Nssa).

Chiwanza pointed out that the management bid to buy the bank deserved first preference as per the country’s black empowerment laws.

“Locals were offering the same kind of money, it is in United States dollars (US$) by the way, and for some strange reason, for the first time RBZ is now saying they don’t interfere in private sale of equity but as regulators it is their mandate to make sure that the law has been implemented…

“We do not want bread crumbs, this is why we have empowerment laws, and we want the bread itself. We have locals who are bidding to buy the 68 percent equity in that bank, they have got the money. Why are we taking foreign money at the expense of locals?” the AAG boss said.

“If we are not going to implement a law, then we must not put the law into place… It must never exist. If a law have been put into effect, it must be implemented. This is our outcry. The law is the law.

“Let us not try to find means and ways to accustom particular situations to suit certain individuals. The law must be implemented across the board,” said Chiwanza.

The AAG president also said the sale exposed government’s policy inconsistency.

“The problem that we are having is that we are very good as Zimbabweans with putting policy to paper but very bad with implementing policy. There is no consistency here…

“So, we are very worried and we are probably going to lobby even to the highest office in the land to interrogate the BBZ transaction and how FMB was chosen over the locals to take over equity,” he said.

This comes as the Zimbabwe Monetary Institute (ZMI) last week wrote to Zhuwao with a similar request, asking him to block the sale.

Comments (1)

Nigel Chanakira and Philip Chiyangwa should team up to buy Barclays out. After all it is merely petty cash to them and they would be good indigenous players to own this bank

midas - 15 June 2017

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