Mugabe ally to splurge £2m on ZSE

Godfrey Marawanyika

HAVING managed to weave his way into Wankie Colliery and the Rainbow Tourism Group (RTG), British businessman Nicholas van Hoogstraten plans to spend £2 million (about $91 billion at

the official exchange rate of $45 500 to the pound) buying shares on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE), businessdigest heard this week.


The stock exchange’s capitalisation stands at $98 billion. With £2 million therefore, van Hoogstraten will easily control a number of stocks on the bourse.


Market capitalisation refers to the total value of all outstanding shares in a listed counter.


Van Hoogstraten’s investment drive compares favourably with that of Jiao Ming, a Chinese businessman who was a big spender on the bourse in the late 1990s.


Old Mutual, Pretoria Portland Cement (PPC) and Delta now hold about 45% of the total market capitalisation on the bourse.


The Briton, a savvy businessman, does most of his transactions by fax, though on a few occasions he visits brokers.


Company executives described van Hoogstraten as a “cunning person, who changes moods all the time”.


Once heralded as Britain’s youngest millionaire, van Hoogstraten has not made a secret of his robust approach to business.


He has homes in Barbados, St Lucia, Florida, Cannes and Zimbabwe and has reportedly spoken warmly of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, whom he once described as “100% decent and incorruptible”.


Van Hoogstraten could not be reached for comment at the time of going to press.


In the RTG rights issue, he became the biggest individual investor using his company – Messina Investments – to buy 35 727 640 shares, representing 2,17% shareholding.


This came after the failure to exercise rights by French group Accor Afrique and the Libyan Arab Africa Investment Company.


Accor and Laaico have reduced their stake to 9,08% and 3,65% respectively. Previously, Accor Afrique and Laaico had 34,20% and 13,84% shareholdings respectively.


In Wankie, van Hoogstraten is the largest individual shareholder with a 12,66% stake through the same company.


He is also understood to be a significant shareholder in Willoughby Consolidated, a UK-registered company which has a 1,41% stake in Wankie.


Government has the largest stake of 38% in the coal-extracting firm.


The tycoon triggered shockwaves in the banking sector in August when he announced that he had a controlling stake in NMB Bank at 20%.


He also has an interest in the group through Edward Nominees.


Analysts said van Hoogstraten’s investment – if it materialises – would be a source of much-needed foreign currency. They also called it a windfall for the investor, considering the collapse of the Zimbabwean currency.


Van Hoogstraten’s land holdings in Zimbabwe were left untouched during the farm invasions allegedly because of his close connections with Mugabe.


Born in 1946 in Shoreham, East Sussex, as plain Nicholas Marcel Hoogstraten – the “van” was added later – by the time he was 22, he was reputed to have had 350 properties in Sussex alone and to have become Britain’s youngest millionaire.

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