TRANS Zambezi Industries (TZI) has secured a soft loan of US$16 million from Swiss banks to finance horticultural projects in Morocco, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia.
Sources close to TZI said the loan was signed in Switzerland last week by TZI chief executive officer, Edwin Moyo and the financial institutions which helped to arrange the funds.
The sources said the loan had a one-year grace period payable over 10 years.
Moyo was reluctant to discuss the issue, preferring first to brief relevant regulatory authorities before making a public announcement.
“It is rather premature to talk about our financial committments,” Moyo said. “Suffice to say we have made commendable progress towards raising the required capital,” he said.
He however confirmed that TZI had signed a joint venture agreement with a Dutch fruit company, Kin Concentrates, to process passion fruit to be marketed in the Russian and European markets.
In the joint venture agreement, TZI will own 48% shares in both the marketing company in Holland and the processing plant in Tanzania.
Sources also said TZI had gone into partnership with a Dutch supermarket chain to process fresh vegetables and grow flowers for the Dutch market. It is understood that TZI is in discussions with a Zambian empowerment group to partner in the project as a local shareholder.
Sources from Zambia said TZI would own 40% while the Dutch supermarket chain would own 20% and the balance owned by management and a group of Zambian businessmen.
“The project is already underway. In addition, a handling facility is being constructed at Lusaka International Airport with a full high-care packhouse facility,” a spokesman for the Zambian empowerment group said.
TZI is also understood to be holding discussions with Avaco, a South African company currently producing, processing and exporting Avocados and Litchis to UK supermarket chains – Tesco and Sainsbury.
Another joint venture project with a UK leading supermarket chain has been identified in Morocco to grow and process fresh vegetables for the UK supermarket chains and TZI is also in discussions with the biggest fresh produce handling company in South Africa, Rollex for a stake in the handling facility.
In a related development, financial advisers working with TZI are believed to be working on a plan to finalise the Mitchell and Mitchell share swap deal with TZI which will result in TZI owning a stake of the Zimbabwean-based horticultural exporter.