INNSCOR Africa Ltd is in talks to acquire troubled bakery –– Lobels Holdings Ltd, businessdigest has established.
But Bakers Inn MD Marcus Athitakis denied such talks this week in an interview with businessdigest. He said: “We still have so much work to do to ensure we make Bakers Inn a world-class bakery brand. We are not looking at any other brands right now.”
However market sources say Innscor has been talking to Lobels Holdings shareholders with a view of taking over the troubled bakery.
This comes after a deal that would have seen Lobels Holdings shareholders disposing of a controlling stake to Tiger Brands, South Africa’s largest food company, fell through recently.
Sources say uncertainty surrounding Zimbabwe’s indigenisation laws could have pushed Tiger Brands out of the deal. The deal would have seen the JSE-listed company paying upwards of US$10 million for Lobels Holdings.
Should the deal sail through, Innscor’s Bakers Inn would emerge as the largest bakery in the country. Athitakis says his company is already enjoying good business in the capital and most parts of the country.
Lobels Holdings shareholder –– Fred Mtandah –– said his company is not talking to Innscor. Mtandah said: “I don’t know anything about that but you must to talk to our chairman (Livingstone Gwata) maybe that happened while I was away.”
Efforts to contact Gwata proved fruitless at the time of going to press as he did not answer his mobile phone. Other efforts to get a comment from Innscor chairman Ray Kaukonde proved fruitless as he also did not answer his mobile phone. His personal assistant said he would call back but had not done so at the time of going to print.
A Lobels audit earlier in the year further exacerbated its woes after a huge hole in the books was unmasked. Then Lobels CEO Burombo Mudhumo, was forced to quit after the audit report was presented to the board.
The company was sold to a consortium of black businesspeople comprising FBCH CEO Gwata, Caps Holdings Ltd chairman Mtanda, FBCH chairman Herbert Nkala and retired Brigadier General David Chiweza.