NIT in fresh bid for 15% Zimplats stake

Shame Makoshori



THE National Investment Trust (NIT) has launched a fresh bid for the hotly contested but elusive 15% stake in giant platinum miner, Zimplats Holdings, ea

rmarked for local investors.


NIT chairman, Keith Guzah told businessdigest last week that the empowerment house, which is battling to raise funds for on-lending to indigenous businesspeople, had secured foreign credit lines for a fresh bid after losing its claim to the stake in 2003.


The NIT has sealed a deal with a South African consortium that has undertaken to bankroll its acquisition of the Zimplats stake, Guzah said.


However, he refusesd to disclose the identity of the South African consortium, nor at what level they are likely to become involved in the acquisition process.


In the past, a consortium that had managed to secure funding from a South African banking institution had been frustrated by bureaucratic bungling and what market watchers believed had been bickering between various political factions in the ruling party.


Needgate had succeeded NIT as the government-nominated company to negotiate for the 15% stake, but after being unceremoniously kicked out of the deal by government, another obscure empowerment consortium, Nkululeko-Rusununguko Mining Company (NRMC) emerged as the new empowerment partner appointed by government to secure the stake.


Nkululeko has also been frustrated by government bureaucracy in its bid for the stake, but since it remains the appointed bidder, it is unclear how NIT, an empowerment agency created by government, is likely to negotiate for the stake with Zimplats major shareholders.


Unverified reports however suggested that NIT had approached government to sanction its bid and elbow out NRMC from negotiations for the stake.


The NIT warehouses public shares for empowerment purposes and distributes money to small enterprises for business development.


Guzah told businessdigest that they were banking on the pledge of the South African company in their fresh bid for a Zimplats stake.


“Our partners in South Africa have agreed to bankroll the project, they are waiting to hear from us,” Guzah said.


“They have the capacity and track record to fund big projects. Our major problem previously was that we failed to raise foreign currency for the stake,” Guzah said.


“The tragedy that struck us (in 2003) was that we were just told by Zimplats that, officially we were out of the deal and that they were working with other indigenous groups, but we were still trying to find ways of getting the funding,” he said.