AT a time when other investors are leaving Zimbabwe in droves, Lonrho plc has acquired an international company with majority stakes in two strategic busi
nesses in the country. Lonhro acquired an 80% stake in Blueberry International Services Ltd (Blueberry), an offshore holding company which owns Celsys Ltd and Peak Mine. Lonrho paid US$5,45 million for the stake.
Blueberry owns Peak Mine which in turn holds 60% of Celsys Ltd a communications company listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange. Celsys wholly owns Gardoserve, a private industrial chemical manufacturer and distributor which trades as Millpal.
Lonrho’s acquisition of Celsys and Millpal is its first investment in Zimbabwe following the announcement by LonZim Plc that it would set aside £50 million for investment in Africa.
LonZim is a separate and specific fund that Lonrho is establishing to build a portfolio of investments in Zimbabwe and neighbouring countries.
Lonrho’s executive chairman, David Lenigas, said the investment acquisition would improve foreign currency inflows into the country.
“Lonrho believes that there is a significant opportunity to bring foreign direct investment to grow existing businesses in Zimbabwe. Now is the time to be establishing and supporting businesses that can develop. The economy has suffered from severe underinvestment,” said Lenigas.
“Lonrho is committed to investing throughout Africa to develop and support the growth of African business. We believe that cautious and well informed, long term investment in Zimbabwe will offer returns not only to Lonrho and Lonzim shareholders but also to Zimbabwean business and the Zimbabwean economy.”
Millpal, has over 20 years experience selling chemicals to the textile and raw materials chemical industry.
Celsys whose core business is ICT is comprised of four divisions — Celsys Print, Celsys IT, Celsys Comms and Celsys Marketing. Lonrho expects to take an active role in the future direction of Celsys by appointing three new directors to the board from within the ranks of Lonrho plc.
This is expected to have a positive effect on Zimbabwean businesses and give directors additional financial backing to explore any expansion opportunities.
Celsys chief executive officer, Geoff Goss, said the investment was going to add value to the company’s earnings and operations.
“We have been aware for some time that an active institutional investor would add tremendous value to our company.
“In Lonrho we have found a partner whose knowledge, experience and resources will empower us to steer the business through the turbulent times and position ourselves for short and long term growth in a multitude of markets.”