Japanese firm snaps up Astra Industries

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A FOREIGN company, Kansai Plascon, has acquired a controlling stake in Astra Industries, businessdigest has established.

Chris Muronzi
Sources close to the deal said the foreign company had inked a deal with Astra’s controlling shareholder, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), which agreed to an unnamed price for its 63% stake.

The deal will also see top management of the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE)-listed company emerging with shareholding in the company.

“The deal is done and dusted,” said a source.

According to the source, a book over of the transaction would go through the ZSE next week. A book over is where a stockbroker has both the buyer and the seller on his/her book.

The central bank, through its investment vehicle, Finance Trust of Zimbabwe, holds 63% equity stake in Astra.

Since the advent of the multi-currency system, the RBZ has been winding up its non-core business.

The company had hinted the sale of the RBZ equity could be concluded in the second half of the year.

Astra reported an after-tax profit of US$496 952 in the half-year to February this year.

Revenue increased by 4%, while aggregate sales volumes grew by 3% over the same period last year.

Gross margins declined from 35% last year to 33% this year. Operating profit, at US$615 875, was below the prior period by 44%.

The group achieved a profit-before-tax of US$620 867, down 43% from last year’s US$1 million.

The group’s total assets turnover, a measure of how much assets are being used to generate sales, stood at 0,7. The efficiency is below one, showing under-utilisation of assets which might be due to the pricing policy in light of stiff competition.

Finance costs declined to US$53 904 from US$91 353 during the period under review.

The company also announced that in March Lobels issued an unsecured five-year convertible debenture in settlement of its debt to Astra Chemicals with a maturity amount of US$103 436.

The group’s current ratio, which measures the company’s ability to meet current liabilities, stood at 1,99, a figure above the standard minimum of one.
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