HomeBusiness DigestEyes trained on Barbican

Eyes trained on Barbican

Godfrey Marawanyika

THREE institutions have applied to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) to acquire and resuscitate operations of the collapsed Barbican Bank Ltd. The institutions are Sagit Financial Holdin

gs, a consortium understood to be led by African Banking Corporation managing director Vulindlela Ndlovu, and Old Mutual Ltd.

Terry Matavire of KPMG Chartered Accountants who was appointed curator by the central bank is reviewing the applications.

Barbican Bank was placed under curatorship after it was found to be facing severe financial constraints.

The central bank said it was concerned about Barbican’s unsafe and unsound condition attributed to critical under-capitalisation, poor corporate governance and exchange control regulation violations.

Matavire this week confirmed that Sagit and “two other groups” had applied to take over Barbican.

“I have received a number of applications. I cannot really comment on one particular institution as there are a number of firms that have applied,” he said.

“I do not think it would be procedural for me to do so as things always evolve almost on a daily basis. So let us leave that issue for now until the right time.”

Barbican was affected by alleged mismanagement that left the institution weighed down by a $23 billion debt.

The institution is currently being probed by the RBZ.

Barbican only repaid $6 billion that it had borrowed from the RBZ as an advance to shore up its financial position.

Sagit chief executive officer Wisper Gwena confirmed the company had applied to take over Barbican but said it was a private issue.

“What we discuss with the regulatory authorities cannot be discussed publicly, so we cannot say anything more or less,” he said.

The Barbican group blew the whistle on itself when it failed to provide local currency for the foreign currency it was allotted on the auction floor, thereby falling squarely under the central bank’s spotlight.

The situation was worsened by problems at its asset management firm which failed to provide adequate information to meet the central bank’s requirements.

Ndlovu this week dismissed speculation that he had teamed up with other partners to take over Barbican saying he new nothing “about it”.

Old Mutual, which this year aborted its talks with Trust Bank Ltd, has over the past week been heavily linked to the take-over of Barbican.

Old Mutual chief operating officer Simon Hammond had not responded to written questions by the time of going to press yesterday.

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