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NEEDGATE Mining has renewed its bid for a 15% stake in Zimbabwe Platinum Mines (Zimplats), a company official said.

This comes after Needgate was elbowed out of the deal in 2004 when Nkululeko Rusununguko Mining Company was given the green light to enter into negotiations with Zimplats.

Macdonald Chapfika, a Needgate official, told businessdigest that his consortium comprising of Paul Chimbodza got assurance from a regional bank that it would fund the deal.

He said: “We have renewed our bid for a 15% stake in Zimplats.”

Asked why the consortium failed to pay for the stake in 2003, Chapfika said: “This is a market misconception that Needgate failed to raise funds for the transaction. Of all the consortiums that wanted to buy the equity, we are the only ones who had the money.”

According to documents seen by businessdigest, Needgate had raised US$31 million by September 2003. Now, the consortium needs to pay over US$100 million for the same stake. But Chapfika insists his financiers would fund the deal nonetheless.

“We have a financier for our bid and we are talking to Zimplats already,” said Chapfika.

Since 2000, several offers have been made for equity in Zimplats. This comes after indications that Zimplats’ empowerment proposal offered 15% of the company’s total issued share capital to locals.

Zimplats offered a 15% stake to blacks in line with economic regulations gazetted two months ago arguing that the company had already given back at least 39% in empowerment credits to the government and people of Zimbabwe. Zimplats surrendered platinum concessions to government when talk of indigenisation heightened in 2005.

Zimplats head corporate affairs Busi Chindove said they had received interest for shareholding in the company.

She said: “While we can confirm that we have received some submissions for consideration for shareholding within Zimplats, we believe that it would not be prudent at this stage to discuss these submissions given that we are still awaiting an official response from the  Youth, Empowerment and Indigenisation ministry on the proposals sent to his office.”

But Empowerment and Indigenisation Minister Saviour Kasukuwere earlier in the week dismissed the offer as a “crazy” one.

Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Regulations gazetted two months ago, which compelled foreign shareholders in businesses valued US$500 000 and above to cede 51% stakes to indigenous Zimbabweans, were reportedly withdrawn by Cabinet this week. Sources in cabinet told the Zimbabwe Independent that justice minister Patrick Chinamasa was told to issue an instrument suspending the regulations.

“Cabinet has set aside these regulations until the appropriate ministers have sat down for fresh consultations and come up with new regulations that will take into consideration all the complaints that were raised by stakeholders and the Prime Minister,” he said.

While MDC-T has been condemning the regulations saying they chased away potential investors, Zanu PF had been saying there was no going back on the regulations.

 

Chris Muronzi

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